A Christchurch couple have received community-based sentences for defrauding a government-funded disability trust of nearly $500,000.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) says Cecilia (Kate) Ellenbroek and Alfonsus (Fons) Ellenbroek spent Alpha Support Centre Trust funds on their personal expenses – including extensive international travel and accommodation, meals and entertainment, clothing, cigarettes, alcohol, jewellery and household appliances.
Mrs Ellenbroek was sentenced at the Christchurch District Court to 12 months of home detention, 300 hours of community work and ordered to pay full reparation. Mr Ellenbroek received six months of community detention, 200 hours of community work and was ordered to pay full reparation. Together the Ellenbroeks must pay $494,545 in reparation.
Mrs Ellenbroek (62) was sentenced on six counts of ‘Theft by person in special relationship’ and six counts of ‘False accounting’ while her husband, Mr Ellenbroek (64), was sentenced on six counts of ‘Theft by person in special relationship’. The charges were brought by the SFO.
The Christchurch-based disabilities trust was funded by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development. The funds were allocated for community day care and vocational services for people with intellectual disabilities.
“The Ellenbroeks enriched themselves by stealing public funds that were allocated for the care of people with intellectual disabilities,” says SFO Director, Julie Read. “Mr and Mrs Ellenbroek misappropriated nearly $500,000 of funds that should have be used to improve the lives of their extremely vulnerable clients. The couple instead used the money for their own personal benefit. Given this significant breach of trust, the SFO asked the Court to impose a term of imprisonment for Mrs Ellenbroek and submitted that home detention was manifestly inadequate.”