27 February 2024

Ex-Gungahlin United president experienced 'fall from grace' after stealing $23,000 from his own club

| Albert McKnight
man walking from court

Aaron David Alexander, former president of the Gungahlin United Football Club, was found guilty of numerous charges. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Aaron David Alexander has owned companies, worked as a CEO and was a “good Samaritan”, volunteering hours of his time at Gungahlin United Football Club (GUFC). But this changed in 2017 when the “trusted businessman” and then-club president “betrayed” the GUFC and stole $23,546 from the very club he was supposed to be supporting.

After he was arrested over the 48 thefts, his assets were frozen, his four-year relationship ended and he was forced to sleep in his car for a time. His daughter no longer speaks to him and he has been unable to find a job since then, the ACT Magistrates Court heard on Monday (26 February).

“The pain of his fall from grace has been acutely felt,” said his lawyer, Legal Aid’s Edward Chen.

The years-long saga was approaching its end on Monday as Alexander, who is in his early 50s, appeared for a sentencing hearing on 48 charges of theft.

A representative for GUFC told the court that not only had his actions caused the club financial hardship, but they also had a profound impact on the mental well-being of the volunteers and their families.

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The club “lost face in the ACT”, its volunteers had been subjected to verbal, written and online abuse, while players left, the representative said.

“While his theft may have provided him with a few months of lavish living, it has created years of anguish for the club he betrayed,” the representative claimed.

“As a club and as individuals, we are still reeling and will likely continue to feel the impacts of his crime for quite some time to come.”

Mr Chen argued that his client had worked with the club for over a year with no issues, then a vacuum emerged when the prior president departed and he capitalised on that opportunity.

The lawyer argued that he hadn’t actively deceived anyone to get into the position or to maintain his offending.

Mr Chen also said that while the club’s representative claimed he lived a lavish lifestyle, there was no evidence of this. While his client had used the money to buy a new car, the lawyer said it was “certainly no Ferrari”.

He also said his client had emigrated to Australia in 1994, was now an “unlawful citizen”, and the prospect of deportation back to the US had been weighing on his mind.

Alexander now lives on a rural property outside Bungendore in NSW where he works for the landlord in return for a place to stay and cash for groceries.

Mr Chen asked Magistrate Glenn Theakston to impose a near-wholly suspended jail sentence, which would take into account the two weeks his client had served in custody.

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Prosecutor Marcus Dyason said the new car was a Land Rover Defender, which was “expensive in my view” as they are currently sold for at least $80,000.

He argued there had been a significant level of premeditation and planning as time and the conduct continued. He called for the magistrate to impose a sentence of full-time imprisonment.

Alexander was originally charged with 108 counts of obtaining property by deception, all of which were dismissed, but then faced 108 back-up theft charges, some of which were also dismissed.

He fought 73 charges at a hearing and was found guilty of 65. He appealed this decision, which was partially successful, and he was left with 48 theft convictions that related to a total of $23,546.

He appealed again, but this was dismissed by three judges on the ACT Supreme Court, leaving him to be sentenced.

Magistrate Theakston will sentence Alexander, whom he called a “trusted businessman”, on Friday (1 March).

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