A Wakatipu man convicted of a $60,000 national sports tournament fraud says he’s sorry but wants people to stop hassling his family.
Facing music: Sevens fraudster Richie Anderson during sentencing in Queenstown District Court on Monday
Richie Anderson, sentenced in Queenstown District Court to 10 months’ home detention this week, tells Mountain Scene in his first interview if people have an issue with him to tell him directly.
“My two young sons, they’ve had a hard time at school and it’s got nothing to do with them. It comes from the parents – if their parents have got an issue then the issue is with me.
“Leave my family alone. I’m the one responsible, the buck stops here,” Anderson says.
Asked what was going through his mind as he was sentenced on Monday, Anderson says: “It hurt that I had hurt my family. But at the end of the day I did it, I’ve just got to accept the fact and continue. I’m just remorseful about it.”
Details of deception
Jan, 2009 – requested $11,289.40 booking commission refund from Mercure Resort be paid to him. It was to have been paid to the Sevens committee.
Dec, 2009 – used own credit card to pay $120,089.55 to Mercure Resort for player accommodation; invoiced Sevens committee for $129,428.
Jun-Dec, 2009 – used own credit card to pay $128,270 for air travel based on Air New Zealand spreadsheet; presented committee with spreadsheet showing $148,942.20 in travel charges and was reimbursed that amount.
Aug-Oct, 2010 – used own credit card to pay $108,903 for air travel; presented committee with a spreadsheet showing $130,034 in travel charges and was reimbursed that amount.
Source: Summary of facts released by Judge Turner
Anderson last month admitted three charges of deceiving the National Sevens tournament’s Queenstown organising committee whilst secretary between January, 2009, and October, 2010. His offending amounted to a
more than $62,000 fraud of the charity event.
Judge Michael Turner told Anderson, an ex-real estate agent and longtime rugby supporter and coach, his actions were a gross abuse of trust that only ceased when he was found out and confronted by committee members.
“You deprived sporting organisations within this area of funds that would have otherwise been received by them and used for the benefit of junior rugby clubs,” Judge Turner said.
The 51-year-old managed to avoid a prison sentence thanks to Judge Turner giving regard to his personal circumstances and lack of previous convictions.
At a sentencing indication last month, Judge Turner said he wasn’t prepared to give any credit for remorse, as the deception was compounded by Anderson claiming his innocence to third parties after his arrest. Anderson’s lawyer Phena Byrne told the court this week not to overlook his good work in bringing the hugely popular Sevens to Queenstown 10 years ago, adding it was sad his recent behaviour overshadowed that.
Anderson, a local of 15 years, is now house-bound at Lake Hayes Estate where he’ll live with his sons, aged 11 and seven.
“I can’t even go to my mailbox. I’m confined [but] it’s better than going inside,” he says. “I’ve got my boys with me, my daughters close by and my grandson, my son-in-laws, inlaws and friends.”
Anderson says he’s unsure if he’ll stay in the Wakatipu long term.
“I really don’t know. My family’s here. It’s a beautiful part of the world to live in but again it’s a small town.”
Asked if he had anything to say to clubs deprived of funds, he said: “I’m sorry for everything I did in regards to hurting my family, so much. To the rugby clubs, well, you’ve got to understand how the structure works and what
they got – whether or not it would have made any difference to them receiving more, I’m not too sure.”
Sevens with Altitude chairman Clark Frew says that’s a crock.
“We donate the profit. Any money he stole came directly off our bottom-line profit,” Frew says.
“There was no Richie tax at the last tournament and the donations to clubs were doubled.”
In court, Judge Turner noted Anderson had approval to first pay for visiting Sevens teams’ flights and accommodation as it enabled him to earn airpoints.
“You met those costs in the first instance and then claimed reimbursement. On various occasions you claimed more from the committee than the actual costs incurred.”
So far, Anderson has repaid $13,700 and has a further $48,600 to go – which Turner ordered must be done within two years.
Anderson says: “You can judge me in two factions – what I’ve done for rugby in the community and what I’ve done now which has driven a big nail through that. Give me time, I’ll make amends.”
Asked how he’d spend his time at home, he says: “My driveway is 27.5 metres long, I can run up and down that a few times, I’ve got a punching bag in the garage.
“I’ve got a lawn to mow.”