A former David Jones IT contractor has been sentenced to 18 months prison for defrauding the retailer of just shy of $80,000 over a two-month period.
Steven Prestage, 46, was found guilty of three counts of fraud and deception at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court last week for offences dating back to 2017.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges - which included one count of dishonestly obtaining property by deception and one count of using false documents to obtain property - in 2018.
The charges related to a scheme where Prestage, who was employed as a project manager, recommended that David Jones engage a company known as Petite Software Systems as a “master scheduling vendor” for a project.
But once the company became a vendor on David Jones’ database, payments were funneled to another company with a similar name, Petite Solutions, using a series of fraudulent invoices.
Petite Software Systems is owned by Prestage’s friend Michael Turner, who was unaware his business and name had been used, while Petite Solutions is registered in the name of Prestage's mother-in-law.
The fraud was noticed when no works had been completed by the company, leading the department store chain's management to question Prestage.
His employment was subsequently terminated and the police became involved.
Court documents reveal that between his initial employment at David Jones on 5 June 2017 and 15 August 2017, Prestage submitted as many as six invoices for work totalling $79,200 including GST.
Two of the payments, which relate to a second purchase order for a master scheduler that was falsely signed by another David Jones project manager, were valued at $19,800 including GST each.
These payments were subsequently transferred to a company named Inctive Global Services, which is registered to Prestage, and then finally into multiple other accounts also under his name.
Prestage also faked a reference from a chief information officer at a childcare organisation to secure the job at David Jones, in which he described himself as hardworking and claimed there was “no need to micromanage”.
Magistrate Erin Kennedy said last Thursday there was no evidence of remorse or contrition for what she described as a “complex fraud” that saw money moved through multiple accounts following a breach of trust by Prestage.
She said a full time custodial sentence was “required” and imposed an 18-month gaol term, with a non-parole period of 10 months. Prestage was also fined $2200 and served with a community corrections order.
Prestage has been released on bail to appeal the sentence later this week.