A first-year lawyer has been sentenced to jail after she was found guilty of stealing over $100,000 from her former firm in order to fund her gambling habit.
Victorian lawyer Cecilia Nguyen, who worked as a graduate lawyer at Melbourne's Mason Black Lawyers, was ordered on Thursday (9 September) to spend at least four months of a 12-month prison sentence behind bars, with an additional suspended sentence of three years.
According to media reports, Nguyen started her fraudulent activity after only five months with the firm, duping clients into depositing $116,483 - which was owed to the firm - into a private account between July 2007 and September 2008.
Nguyen, who claimed she was suffering depression at the time, sought a self-exclusion order at Melbourne's Crown Casino in an attempt to curtail her spending and last month pleaded guilty to charges of theft and falsifying documents.
Judge Christine Thornton of Victoria's County Court handed down Nguyen's sentence, noting in her sentencing remarks: "Your offending is serious, particularly aggravated by the fact that you were employed as a solicitor and that you breached not only the trust of your clients, but also your employer and the Law Institute of Victoria."
Nguyen has also been ordered to refund around $60,000 of the misappropriated funds to her former employer, from whom Lawyers Weekly is awaiting comment.