Couple admit stealing tax-payer funds for lavish lifestyle
19 July 2018
A Christchurch couple have pleaded guilty to defrauding a government-funded disability trust of nearly $500,000 on charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.
Cecilia Ellenbroek (61) and Alfonsus Ellenbroek (64) 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. They entered their pleas at the Christchurch District Court.
Mrs Ellenbroek pleaded guilty to six counts of ‘Theft by person in special relationship’ and six counts of ‘False accounting’, while her husband, Mr Ellenbroek, pleaded guilty to six counts of ‘Theft by person in special relationship’.
The Christchurch-based disabilities trust was funded by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development.
SFO Director, Julie Read said, “The Ellenbroeks’ offending took place over a sustained period, was premeditated and the amount of public funds stolen was significant. The funds were allocated for community day care and vocational services for people with intellectual disabilities. The offending came at the expense of some of the most vulnerable members of our society, with whose care the Ellenbroeks were entrusted.”
Mr and Mrs Ellenbroek have been remanded on bail until sentencing on 25 October at the Christchurch District Court.