29 May 2009

Prison sentence for fraudster

8:46 pm on 29 May 2009

A former accountant from Waipawa in central Hawke's Bay has been sentenced in the Napier District Court to five years in prison for fraud totalling $3.28 million dollars over a 20 year period.

Warren Pickett, 63, handed himself into the Serious Fraud Office in August last year after his two finance companies went into liquidation. He pleaded guilty in March.

Serious Fraud Office chief prosecutor Anita Killeen has confirmed that Pickett's prison term has a minimum non-parole period of three years.

Ms Killeen says Judge McIntosh told Pickett she began assessing his sentence at well above the maximum sentence of seven years, to reflect the totality of his offending.

But Judge McIntosh told the court she had discounted the sentence, taking into account an early guilty plea and a substantial amount of volunteer community work over the past 20 years.

One of Warren Pickett's victims John Hands says the man has destroyed many lives.

John Hands lost the $312,000 he gave to Warren Pickett in the belief the respected businessman would invest it wisely.

He's just one of about 200 locals that Pickett defrauded.

Mr Hands says the sentence is not enough to deter other white-collar criminals who present themselves as pillars of the community.