Law firm secretary jailed for five years

2013-10-11 00:00

A FORMER senior conveyancing secretary who defrauded clients of Pietermaritzburg law firm Austen Smith of at least R570 000 over a two-year period has been jailed effectively for five years.

Regional court magistrate Z.W. Ngwenya sentenced Samburanam Melanie Aroom (43), a widow from Allandale, to 10 years’ imprisonment on each of the 23 separate counts of fraud to which she pleaded guilty — a total of 230 years’ imprisonment.

Ngwenya, however, suspended half the sentence imposed in respect of each count, and further ordered that the jail terms run concurrently with each other.

The court took into account that Aroom had pleaded guilty, but said fraud was a “serious and ugly offence”, which required offenders to be severely punished. The crimes to which Aroom pleaded guilty were committed between March 3, 2009 and July 7, 2011.

She admitted in her plea to having submitted fraudulent applications for bridging finance to money-lending companies, and using clients’ trust funds to repay the bridging finance companies.

The money she obtained was paid into her personal account.

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