Coronet Peak workers fined for ski pass fraud

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Two former NZ Ski workers have been convicted and fined for fraudulently obtaining ski passes.

Ben Pyle, a 22-year-old Englishman, and Kelly Josiah Williams, 18, today formally apologised to their ex-bosses for their actions.

At Queenstown District Court today, Pyle pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining a day pass – worth $95 – for pecuniary advantage and obtaining three season passes – worth $2598 – by deception.

Williams, an unemployed New Zealand-born Australian, pleaded guilty to making a fake day ski pass for Pyle to use.

Both men worked at Coronet Peak’s guest services desk issuing lift tickets during the ski season.

The court heard Pyle – previously a facilities assistant for the BBC – received three non-transferable season passes from friends that were leaving NZ between July 15 and August 19.

Between August 1-3 a friend of Pyle’s asked if he could change her season pass so she could sell it to another woman – he changed the original photo at work.

While at work again on August 6-8, Pyle was approached by a man wanting to buy a season pass but couldn’t afford to pay full price.

“The defendant altered the photo of the second pass he had been given and sold it to the new owner for $250,” police prosecutor Ian Collin says.

He also altered and sold a third pass to another man between August 17-18 for $200, who used it for six weeks before leaving the country.

On September 27, Pyle contacted Williams and asked him if he could get a cheap day pass to use on October 2. Williams printed a fake day pass on September 30 and issued it at no cost.

Pyle was caught by former co-workers after he used a chairlift twice at Coronet Peak.

Addressing Judge Dominic Flatley, Pyle said: “I did it for my personal benefit.

“I wanted to help out friends. My actions were very naïve and I regret it a lot.

“I’m going to apologise to NZSki. They put me in a position of trust which I abused.”

Williams’ explanation for his actions was that Pyle asked him for the pass and he “hesitantly” gave it to him.

Both men are leaving NZ soon – Pyle “within the week” and Williams on October 12.

Judge Flatley says the charges are “serious” and can carry prison terms. The convictions will affect the men’s travel and employment opportunities.

“We’ll send you home; hopefully you won’t get to come back.”

Pyle was fined $1000 plus $132.89 court costs, plus ordered to pay reparation of $2693. Williams was fined $800 plus court costs and ordered to pay $95 in reparation.

Coronet Peak closes for the season on Wednesday.