Serial Brisbane woman fraudster jailed

Shae McDonald

A serial fraudster who stole more than $300,000 from her Brisbane employer has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years' jail.

Leonie Marie Hartas wrote 182 fake cheques to herself while she worked as an administrative assistant at a trophy and engraving business between 2012 and 2016.

The 42-year-old fraudulently signed her boss' signature and took them to the bank where she deposited them in one of her two bank accounts.

She then covered up her tracks by falsifying entries at her work and on the cheque book stubs.

The Brisbane District Court on Wednesday heard Hartas deposited between two and four cheques each month, which ranged from $794 to $3515.

She stole a total of $311,740.57.

Judge Nicole Kefford said her employers, who were also friends of hers, only discovered the theft when they noticed a downturn in profits.

"Initially they put that down to the economic climate," she said, adding they withdrew funds from their superannuation accounts and sold shares to keep the business afloat.

The court heard Hartas had been convicted of similar offences three times since 2003.

She stole about $65,000, $23,000 and $21,000 on each occasion.

Defence barrister Dymphna Hawkins said her client had a series of serious mental health issues, including bipolar disorder.

She said Hartas had also recently admitted she had a long-standing cocaine and marijuana addiction, which she wanted to address when she was released.

Judge Kefford said despite Hartas' medical problems and remorse, she needed to impose a penalty that would stop her from reoffending.

She also said the mother of one had made no attempts to repay any of the money she had stolen.

Hartas was sentenced to six-and-a-half years' jail, but will be eligible for release after she serves two years and two months.