Callely admits expense fraud claims
Former junior minister Ivor Callely has pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud over expenses claims totalling more than 4,000 euro while he was a politician, a court heard today.
The 56-year-old ex-Fianna Fail TD and senator admitted to three counts at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on top of one count he pleaded guilty to in March.
Callely is accused of fraudulently using bogus invoices from three companies to claim money back from the Houses of the Oireachtas for mobile phones, Blackberry handsets, car kits, installation, insurance and maintenance.
The expenses totalled 4,0267.45 euro.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring was told the vast majority of the money claimed was repaid in August 2010 when a journalist made freedom of information requests on the claims.
The now separated father-of-three, aged 56, with an address at St Lawrence Road, Clontarf, north Dublin will be back before the court on Monday for a further sentencing hearing.
Judge Ring will hear submissions on previous criminal cases involving politicians and will also read a report on the affair by the Standards in Public Office watchdog.
Callely could face an indeterminate fine or up to 10 years in prison.
The court was told that headed paper, some of high quality and water marked, purporting to be from three companies - Business Communications Ltd, Intech Ireland and Allstat Ltd - was used by Callely when he was serving as senator to make claims for telecoms costs.
The claims varied from 750 euro to 701 euro.
Each claim he made covered a separate 18 month period during his time as a TD or Senator after he was appointed to the Upper House by Bertie Ahern and was informed that he could claims for personal phones.
The One Stop Shop in Leinster House, an office which advises TDs and Senators on expenses, received the invoices, some of which also included claims for costs in punts rather than euro and also carried out of date phone numbers on the letter heads.
Callely was investigated over invoices he submitted with claims for expenses dating back to 2002.
The court heard that following his arrest, Callely told the fraud squad detectives that during the period of the claims he sometimes had three phones at a time and that he constantly changed them to keep up with technology.
He said he did not recognise the invoices when questioned in a Garda station, the court heard.
Michael O'Higgins, senior counsel for Callely, asked Judge Ring to consider sparing the former politician from jail and to allow him to do community service.
"Ivor Callely knows full well that what he did he ought not to have done. Ivor Callely is here today to take his medicine whatever that may be," Mr O'Higgins said.
The court heard Callely has suffered anxiety, stress and embarrassment and shame over the controversy.
He had an 11 million euro judgment registered against him last year after a failed investment.
The former minister resigned from the Seanad and Fianna Fail in 2010.
Callely fought and won a legal battle against a 20-day suspension from the house in 2011 over 81,000 euro travel expenses run up while he was a sitting Senator but living in his holiday home in Kilcrohane, west Cork, over three years.
The High Court ordered that he be paid almost 17,000 euro for loss of earnings during his suspension.
Callely, from Dublin's northside, went to school in Raheny and Fairview, and he subsequently built his support base in the area.
He was elected to Dublin City Council in 1985. Four years later he took a Dail seat for Fianna Fail in the Dublin North Central constituency.
He served 13 years in the house before being promoted to the junior ministerial ranks in the departments of health and transport.
Callely was forced to resign as a junior minister in 2005 when it was revealed that a construction company had arranged for his Clontarf home to be painted some years previously.
He lost his Dail seat at the next election and was appointed to the Seanad as one of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's 11 nominees in 2007.