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Hot tub worker spent thousands stolen from bosses on designer clothes

today15 September 2022 2

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A finance assistant at a Derbyshire firm stole more than £50,000 from it to spend on designer handbags, shoes and holidays. Derby Crown Court heard how mother-of-two Loredana Ghioca took the cash in 34 separate transactions when she worked for a hot tub company.

On the day the 34-year-old left her role a colleague in the same department noticed a “suspicious transaction” and an investigation discovered the true extent of her fraud. Now she has been spared immediate prison with a warning that if she commits any other offences in the next two years she will be locked up.

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Handing her a two-year jail sentence, suspended for two years, Recorder Michelle Heeley KC said: “Over a six-month period, you systematically stole over £50,000 from your employer and spent the money on handbags, shoes and holidays. You made claims of discrimination and you denied any wrongdoing until you were confronted with, quite frankly, overwhelming evidence.

“You are a mother. Did you think about the example you would set for your children and how they would cope with their mother in prison? Did you think about that when you committed this offence?

“I don’t want to ever see you again, do you understand?” Ghioca replied “Yes.” Annabel Lenton, prosecuting, said the defendant worked as a finance assistant at hot tub firm Superior Wellness, based in Sheepbridge, near Chesterfield, from October 2020. She said Ghioca handed in her notice as she was unhappy in her job and was supposed to leave in November 2021 but actually left on September 23.

The prosecutor said: “On that day another member of the finance team noticed a suspicious transaction of £7,800 and an investigation was launched. It found that between March 24 and September 23, 2021, there were 34 (similar) transactions totalling £50,883.

“Officers searched her home and found a number of luxury items including designer handbags and shoes. In interview she first denied any offence but then later admitted she used it to spend on bills, going on holidays and the luxury goods.”

Ghioca, of Horsehead Lane, Bolsover, pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud by abuse of position. She has no previous convictions. Shina Animashaun, mitigating, said his client was unhappy in her job and said she had been discriminated against by the head of finance who she said had a cruel nickname for her.

He said: “That added to her pressure and anxiety at the time.” He said she has children aged six and 12 and has since enrolled on a degree course at Middlesex University.

As part of the suspended sentence order, Recorder Heeley ordered Ghioca to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work. A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, where the stolen money could be claimed back from the defendant, was set for early January at the same court.

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