Former Lady Braves coach Lukas Carey pleads guilty to defrauding City of Ballarat, may get jail

Lukas Carey will likely face time behind bars for defrauding council.

Lukas Carey will likely face time behind bars for defrauding council.

A former Lady Braves coach will likely be sent to prison for defrauding the Ballarat City Council of almost $200,000 while manager of sport and recreation between 2013 and 2015. 

Lukas Carey and his wife Jasmine Carey (A.K.A Carol Finnigan) faced the County Court sitting at Ballarat where they pleaded guilty to a combined 10 charges. 

During the hearing, Judge Michael McInerney indicated Mr Carey will likely face time behind bars for “ripping off the community” while Mrs Carey will probably receive a community corrections order. 

The court heard between September 2013 and November 2015, while Mr Carey was employed by City of Ballarat, the couple orchestrated a kick-back scheme using a sham company where Mrs Carey was the sole director. 

Police allege Mr Carey was party to all illegal activities while Mrs Carey and two other contractors only acted with Mr Carey and not with one another. Police claim Mr Carey initiated and facilitated the fraud and was the principal offender. 

The two other contractors involved in the scam made statements admitting their part and implicating Mr Carey, gaining themselves indemnity from charges. 

The court heard Mr Carey resigned from City of Ballarat 10 days before a protected disclosure notification was submitted to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) on November 25, 2015. 

Mr Carey’s defence lawyer, Rodney Willcox, said his client knew trouble was brewing and that's why he resigned from the council. 

The court heard Mr Carey also encouraged other contractors he engaged for work to increase their invoices and he would pay himself a “finders fee” from the extra charge to council. 

While the couple were found to have rorted a total of $184,123 through their scheme, City of Ballarat sought a compensation order for just $20,500.  

Mrs Carey originally opposed the compensation order, claiming she carried out some work under the banner of her company but changed her mind later in the hearing and accepted the order. 

Mr Wilcox attempted to argue Mr Carey’s underprivileged upbringing was a contributing factor to his offending but Judge McInerney was not swayed. 

"We are a long way from there now he's 40; they just call it ripping off the community, don't they?” Mr McInerney said. 

However, Mr McInerney said he would take into consideration neither Mr or Mrs Carey had a criminal history. 

Carey also held the position of regional manager for Bendigo Pools, but he was stood down by Belgravia Leisure in December 2016.

The couple are expected to be sentenced later this week.