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Ex-Rehab Manager Admits 465 Charges

The former manager of the Vincentian Centre drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme, Rodney David Mason, has been told that prison is “utterly certain” after his guilty pleas on 465 dishonesty charges. Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen Erber remanded the 57-year-old on bail to August 6 for sentence and ordered a reparation report, but was told that there was no real likelihood of repayment.
The court was told that Mason would have received about $300,000 from the offending, but the summary of facts says he has lost more than that amount gambling. “Inquiries with the New Zealand Racing Board have confirmed that Mason has a serious gambling addiction and was operating two betting accounts between April 2006 and October 2008,” according to documents handed to the judge by crown prosecutor Marty Robinson.
Mason lost $364,000 by gambling over a period of about three years when he received a total salary of about $130,000. The centre in Wilsons Road, which had 11 beds, closed last year. Mason was now working as a cleaner and earned only a modest income, defence counsel Andrew Riches told the court.
Mason admitted 91 charges of dishonestly using a Vincentian Recovery Centre Trust invoice to obtain the payment of residential support subsidies totalling $1.37 million. He also pleaded guilty to 37 charges of using trust invoices to obtain payment of the men’s alcohol and drug day programme subsidy and 333 charges of making false documents — cheques — with intent to use them to obtain funds.
Not all the money was dishonestly obtained by applying for the subsidies. Mr Robinson said about $600,000 was paid when there was no entitlement, and Mr Riches said Mason had personally benefitted from about half of that. Judge Erber asked for a pre-sentence report, and a reparation report, and a check on Mason’s suitability for home detention before sentencing.
But he said his view was that imprisonment was “utterly certain”. Judge Erber said that it would have been better to lay three representative charges covering all of the offending, and withdraw the huge number of single charges which “will cause great confusion in the computer”. Mr Riches told the court that the Vincentian Centre was in the process of selling some assets which would raise at least $170,000. That could leave a final reparation total of about $400,000.