A rugby league referee emptied out his own association’s accounts in order to fuel his gambling addiction.
Dwayne Andre Hibbs left the Waikato Rugby League Referees Association unable to fund their own end-of-year prizegiving after he siphoned $13,620 out of the account over several months in 2015.
Hibbs, 43, pleaded guilty to 21 charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage, one charge of theft, and one charge of altering a document when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Friday.
The Fitzroy man, named as a storeperson on court documents, began to take advantage of the trust of his refereeing colleagues about the time of the association’s annual meeting on December 3, 2014.
It was at that meeting that the organisation’s new treasurer and two other association members were named as authorised signatories on its account with the Westpac bank.
Hibbs obtained a copy of the minutes of the meeting, and altered that document to make it show that he was the sole signatory for the association account. On January 19 he took the altered document to the Westpac bank, where he filled out the necessary forms establishing himself in that role.
Shortly after, Hibbs approached the association’s treasurer – who had stepped down from the role at the annual meeting – and asked him to write out a blank cheque, so he could buy some training gear.
The outgoing treasurer gave him the whole chequebook, which Hibbs was supposed to pass directly on to the association’s new treasurer.
Instead, he pocketed the chequebook and used the blank cheque to obtain $900, which he promptly banked into his own bank account.
Between January 19 and September 24, 2015 a further 20 fraudulent cheques followed, which he made out to himself or for cash. The single biggest cheque was for $2000, the smallest just $30.
Hibbs kept a close eye on the available funds in the association account and only one of those cheques was dishonoured.
All up, Hibbs took $13,620 in this manner.
But that was not all. On September 21 of that year Hibbs nabbed a Panasonic video camera valued at $3500 that belonged to the association.
He took the camera to the Fastmoney pawnbroker in Frankton, who gave him $200 for it.
By the time of an executive meeting of the association in October 21 the game was up. Hibbs admitted misappropriating the funds.
His fellow referees blew the whistle. The police were contacted and, eventually, Hibbs was charged.
He told the police he needed the money to fund his gambling habit.
A planned prizegiving event was abandoned because the bank account was empty.
The association was reimbursed $12,720 by Westpac after the extent of Hibb’s duplicity was revealed.
The stolen video camera was recovered from Fastmoney – at a cost of $319.
The referees are still seeking redress from Hibbs in the form of reparation, to the tune of $14,239.
On Friday, Hibbs was convicted by Judge Merelina Burnett, who remanded him on further bail until his sentencing date in June.
The judge also ordered that a restorative justice meeting be held.