Former director of aged care facility sentenced

Gela Anne Newitt, of Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, has been sentenced in the County Court of Victoria, after previously pleading guilty to obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

 

Mrs. Newitt, a former director of Parklane Assets Pty Ltd (Parklane) which operated the Mentone Gardens Supportive Care Home (Mentone Gardens), has been sentenced to 34-months imprisonment with 24-months of the sentence to be suspended. Ms Newitt will serve 10 months imprisonment immediately.

 

ASIC commenced its investigation after receiving a report lodged by the liquidator of Parklane, Roger Grant of Dye & Co Pty Ltd. ASIC assisted the Liquidator to prepare the supplementary report and provided funding from the Assetless Administration Fund.

 

Mentone Gardens is a 42-room aged care facility located in Mentone, Victoria. Parklane was placed in liquidation in 2013, owing many residents, their families and other creditors, over $4.5 million.

 

As a result of this failure, an investigation was also conducted by the Victorian Ombudsman into Department of Health oversight of Mentone Gardens.

 

An ASIC investigation found Mrs. Newitt dishonestly obtained a financial advantage for herself by falsely representing to residents of Mentone Gardens that their deposit monies would be held in a trust account and that interest earned from these monies would be used to reduce their accommodation fees. Instead, Mrs Newitt used around $600k of the deposit monies for business related expenses.

 

‘Mrs Newitt was a director, who had an obligation to her clients, the residents of Mentone Gardens, to use their funds as promised. ASIC has said before, and will continue to do so, that directors and the general financial industry needs to always recognise that we are dealing with other people’s money,’ said ASIC Commissioner John Price.

 

In delivering the sentence, Judge Kidd stated that the sentence ‘must strongly discourage persons like you, in positions of trust regarding the finances of others, particularly elderly and vulnerable people, from dealing with the money entrusted to them in a dishonest way’.

 

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuted the matter.

 

19 December 2019.