15 April 2024

Fraudster who 'abused' trust when stealing from aged care home avoids jail time

| Albert McKnight
woman walking outside court

Lorey Jane Librando pleaded guilty to her charges before she was sentenced. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The aged care worker who stole about $76,000 from her employer and three residents “abused” the trust she had been given, a judge said before sparing her time behind bars.

Lorey Jane Librando, 40, was convicted and sentenced to a three-year intensive corrections order (ICO), a community-based sentence, by the ACT Supreme Court last week.

She worked at the Royal Freemasons Benevolent Institution in Holt, also known as Kalparrin Aged Care, for five years in the lead-up to her crimes, initially as a receptionist before her role was expanded to include paying for invoices.

Between 2018 and 2019, she stole about $48,000 from the facility by processing 43 fraudulent invoices into her and her husband’s bank account after creating a cut-out of the stamp with the general manager’s signature.

Also, she used bank cards belonging to three of the facility’s residents to withdraw about $28,000 cash from their accounts.

She did repay almost $9000 to one of the residents, although two of them have since died.

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“All three residents were vulnerable. Each of them lacked agency of their own. They relied on paid staff of the aged care facility to assist them,” Justice Belinda Baker said in her sentencing remarks.

“The first resident was particularly vulnerable. She has an intellectual disability and did not have a power of attorney at the time of the offences.”

At the sentencing hearing earlier this month, the general manager for the aged care facility wrote a statement for the court saying she now suffered from sleepless nights, questioning, “How could she have done this to these vulnerable people?”

Librando was stood down from work when her crimes were discovered and she later resigned. She was interviewed by police in 2023, telling them her mental health had deteriorated and she would use the money to gamble on poker machines, which eased her distress at the time.

woman hiding her face outside court

Lorey Jane Librando (right) used her jacket to hide her face from the media when she left court. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Forensic psychologist Leesa Morris said she had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and thought her problematic gambling was a coping mechanism. In this way, she said it was “a symptom of her trauma condition, rather than a separate gambling disorder”.

Librando went on to plead guilty to obtaining financial advantage by deception, theft and minor theft.

Justice Belinda Baker said the mother-of-two was born and raised in the Philippines, had a difficult and traumatic upbringing, and then became an Australian citizen in 2012.

She had been working in a contact centre for about four years and, in 2022, was even handed an award from the CEO for her outstanding contribution to the business.

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Justice Baker said she had since “lost her job following adverse media publicity concerning these sentence proceedings”, but she rejected Librando’s lawyers’ claims that this was extra-curial punishment.

“The loss of employment is a natural consequence of offending of this nature,” she said.

In a letter to the court, Librando said she was “embarrassed and ashamed beyond words” and has taken full responsibility for her actions.

Justice Baker took into account her remorse, her PTSD and how she had good prospects of rehabilitation.

As part of her ICO, she must engage in gambling addiction programs and psychological counselling, as well as complete 100 hours of community service.

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