A HIGH-profile campaigner who has admitted fraud by abuse of her position involving more than £5,000 at a dog welfare charity has been warned by a judge she could be jailed.
Adrianne Peltz (34) has admitted using a Dogs Trust credit card for personal expenditures.
At Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday, where Peltz sat in the public gallery, District Judge Nigel Broderick adjourned sentencing saying that as the defendant’s “liberty” was at risk he wanted medical reports regarding her health.
The judge also wanted to hear how the offending has impacted on the Dogs’ Trust.
The ‘fraud by abuse of position’ charge admitted by Peltz relates to dates between April 10 and October 12 in 2017.
The full charge reads: ‘Defendant on dates between the 10th day of April 2017 and the 12th day of October 2017 whilst occupying a position in which you were expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of Dogs Trust, dishonestly abused that position in that you used a company credit card for personal expenditures with the intention, by means of the abuse of that position to make a gain for yourself or another or to cause loss to Dogs Trust or to expose Dogs Trust to a risk of a loss, in breach of section 4 of the Fraud Act 2006, contrary to Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006’.
The court was told the sum of money involved was £5,393.22.
A pre-sentence report had been prepared on Peltz and Judge Broderick said she had been described as a carer for her mother and the report also made reference to the defendant’s daughter.
The judge said he would like to see medical evidence as there were “significant health issues” and he wanted a report regarding the impact on the defendant’s “mental health if she receives an immediate custodial sentence”.
Defence barrister Stephen Law said restitution to the Dogs Trust was a “live issue”.
The full details of the case have yet to be outlined to the court
Sentencing was adjourned to October.
Previous press statements from the Dogs Trust said Peltz was the charity’s Campaigns Manager for Northern Ireland.
The Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and cares for over 15,000 dogs each year through a network of 20 rehoming centres in the UK including one in Ballymena.
A Dogs Trust spokesperson previously said: “We can confirm that following an internal investigation we referred a case to the police following financial discrepancies relating to a company credit card used by one of our former employees. The employee had left our employment by the time we discovered the financial discrepancies.
“Dogs Trust relies on the enormous generosity of the public to continue caring for over 15,000 dogs every year. It is of paramount importance to us that we use our funds in the best way possible, so the public has confidence that their donations are being spent wisely.
“Events such as this are rare for us and we take them very seriously. We have taken appropriate steps to recover the funds where possible, so that we can put them back into the vital work we do. We would like to thank the police for their prompt assistance in this matter.”
Peltz recently resigned from the board of trustees at Victim Support NI. Victim Support NI is an independent charity supporting people affected by crime.
She told the BBC “it was the fair and right thing to do for a charity that does such good work with victims”.
In July, Peltz was pictured at Stormont with Boris Johnson during his Conservative Party leadership campaign ahead of becoming Prime Minister.
She has also resigned from her role as regional co-ordinator of Politics Plus, which provides support to MLAs at Stormont.
The defendant is originally from South Africa but has lived in Northern Ireland for a number of years and her other leading roles included the student union sector.
Peltz, of Beatrice Road, Bangor, was a campaigner for Amnesty International in Northern Ireland and has also frequently appeared as a media commentator.