News State ACT News Govt worker uses taxpayers’ credit card for spending spree

Govt worker uses taxpayers’ credit card for spending spree

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A Canberra public servant who purchased a sky diving adventure during a $37,000 spending spree on her Commonwealth credit card has faced a sentencing hearing in the ACT Supreme Court.

The fraud covered periods during which 41-year-old Michelle Russell worked for two different Federal Government departments, in 2012.

Separately, Russell was charged with fraudulently collecting a single parent allowance when she was living with her husband.

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She was also charged with forging the signatures of her landlords in 2012 in order to have $2200 in rental bond money returned – despite the fact she still owed about $3000 rent.

Russell pleaded guilty to all charges.

The court was told the fraudulent spending included a holiday in Queensland.

During the holiday, Russell bought a pair of Oroton sunglasses worth $265.

She told the sales assistant her boss wanted to treat her to a pair of good sunglasses and a massage.

“He said I’ve been working hard and to put it on the company card,” Russell told the assistant, the court heard.

The court heard that when shown more expensive glasses, Russell told the shop assistant she did not want to “push her luck”.

Skydiving disk found during search of home

The skydiving adventure included a video on a disc, which was seized when a search warrant was executed at the Russell’s home.

Other spending included grocery purchases, Foxtel bills, the hire of a limousine and theatre tickets.

The court heard Russell also told multiple lies to her boss and presented false medical certificates.

On one occasion she said she had lost a baby and needed time off, and on another she said she had a lump in her breast.

Russell will be sentenced later this month.

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