An 18-month jail sentence has been handed down to a property manager formerly employed by a Sydney commercial property management company.
The judgment was delivered to Paul Francis Charles Stevens, who was convicted of seven counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception and sentenced to the jail term, suspended on him entering into a bond.
Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said he applauded the efforts of Fair Trading investigators and prosecutors in the matter.
“This outcome is a credit to their professional skills,” he said. “This is a very strong sentence at the upper end of the jurisdictional limit and with a commensurate deterrent message to the community generally and the real estate industry specifically.”
According to a statement from Fair Trading NSW, Mr Stevens worked as a property manager at a Sydney commercial property management company for more than six years and in that time he stole tenants’ rent cheques from his employer and deposited cheques into his own account.
Unlawfully having possession of the cheques, he over-wrote the payee name particulars with ‘P Stevens’ and overlaid it with a ‘Not Negotiable’ stamp imprint to disguise the true payee.
Later, he presented the forged cheques to cause deposit credit entries to be recorded in a bank account of Paul Stevens Property Services Pty Limited, trading as Paul Stevens Property Services.
In a separate and prior action, the property management company sued Mr Stevens and on 7 December 2010, the NSW District Court awarded the company $246,916 plus costs. That judgment debt has not been satisfied.
The Commissioner said Fair Trading would continue to regulate the real estate industry with rigour, in the interests of honest participants and the public.
The District Court in August last year upheld the sentence of an unlicensed real estate agent, Phillip Chau, to 18 months imprisonment, with a non parole period of 12 months, for misappropriating monies from clients’ property trust accounts. Mr Chau was ordered to pay $123,830 to the Property Services Compensation Fund.
Earlier in 2011, Fair Trading prosecuted Navid Azzati, the director of a company formerly trading as Raine & Horne Fairfield. Mr Azzati was sentenced to seven months imprisonment, suspended on him entering a bond, for fraudulently misappropriating monies.
He was ordered to pay $58,855 to the Property Services Compensation Fund.