Woman admits defrauding €35,000 from intellectually disabled man

A convicted fraudster who defrauded more than €35,000 from an intellectually disabled man by forging a number of official documents will be sentenced in May.

Anne Gillen (aged 55) of Bentley Villas, Dun Laoghaire, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to a number of sample charges of fraud and deception including that she used a bogus general power of attorney form and a false bank mandate to induce staff at Permanent TSB in Dun Laoghaire and Blackrock to hand over cash.

Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, told Judge Mary Ellen Ring that Gillen’s partner at the time, Joseph Potts, was made the legitimate power of attorney for his intellectually disabled uncle, Joseph Murray, in 2009 after Mr Murray’s mother passed away.

Mr Potts' brother, Christopher, who was a second power of attorney, subsequently noticed that a total of €35,420, had been removed from the man’s account without permission.

He reported it to the gardaí in November 2010 after he made enquiries with the bank about a number of withdrawals from the account.

Sergeant Barry O’Connor said that gardaí later established that a number of documents, which had been provided to the bank in order to allow Gillen to withdraw the cash, were falsified.

A solicitor confirmed that while a general power of attorney giving permission to Mr Potts to access the account was genuine, a second one also giving authority to his partner Gillen, had been forged.

The solicitor involved confirmed that while his signature appeared on the form he had not authorised it.

He also confirmed that though a bank mandate allowing Joseph Potts to withdraw cash from the account had been witnessed by him, he hadn’t authorised the insertion of Gillen’s name on to the form.

The solicitor suggested that the woman’s name must have been added to the document at a later stage.

Gillen withdrew the cash over seven months between February and September 2010. Sgt O’Connor confirmed that Mr Murray had not authorised any of those withdrawals.

Gillen was arrested in August 2011 and “in general, exercised her right to silence”, Mr Collins said.

Mr Potts later made a statement to gardaí claiming that he would not have allowed Gillen to add her signature to any of the documents and would not have allowed the withdrawals.

Sgt O’Connor said the victim has not had any of the money returned to him and the bank has not refunded him.

He confirmed that Gillen had a total of 61 previous convictions including possession of a forged prescription, and number of forgery offences dating back to 1989.

Sgt O’Connor agreed with Patrick Reynolds BL, defending, that Gillen had an alcohol problem and was addicted to prescribed medication.

He accepted that a number of the forgery charges related to her forging prescriptions in order to get tablets.

Mr Reynolds told Judge Ring that it was his client’s instructions that she had “assistance in spending the money”, which was principally spent on drink.

A car had also been purchased in the name of Mr Potts’ which he later “disposed of”, counsel said.

Counsel said his client never got any money from the sale of the car and accepted that no money has been paid back to Mr Murray.

Mr Reynolds told the court that both Gillen’s relationship with Mr Potts and her earlier marriage had been “alcohol laden”.

She started to use slimming tablets in her twenties and became addicted to them before she began abusing sleeping tablets.

Mr Reynolds said Gillen has since attended a local community addiction team and while she acknowledges that she “fell off the wagon” last year, she has been “back on it” for the last 12 months.

Judge Ring agreed to an application to adjourn the case to next May pending the preparation of a probation report but remanded Gillen in custody until that date.

She noted that no effort has been made to pay any of the money back adding: “it doesn’t matter who else, if anyone is involved, she is before the court”.

Judge Ring said Gillen had used her intelligence and wit to become involved in the offence which needed both thought and preparation.

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