An employee of Dundalk Town Council admitted to pocketing rents he had collected from social housing tenants, according to an investigation carried out by RTE Investigates as part of their Council Chamber Secrets programme aired last week.
The thefts are believed to have happened over a four year period between 2009- 2013.
According to RTE Investigates, the thefts came to light when a tenant was informed by the council that she was in rent arrears but the tenant insisted that she was up to date with her rent payments.
Louth County Council told RTÉ Investigates that in total, the employee "misappropriated" €14,537, involving seven tenancies.
As part of the council’s investigation into the matter a meeting was held between the employee in question, two trade union officials and two council officials investigating the matter.
According to RTE Investigates, the minutes of the meeting revealed that the Gardai had been notified and that the council would decided whether to pursue the matter further with the Gardai when they had completed their own investigation.
According to RTE the minutes also stated that the union official stated that "previous cases of this nature had been dealt with 'in house’ and that [the employee] should not be treated any differently,” and that he was prepared to pay back the money, "in so far as possible."
A report into the matter completed in March 2014 stated that the employee had destroyed several used receipt books and interfered with the council’s computer system in an attempt to conceal his actions.
The employee was eventually dismissed for gross misconduct, it was reported.
Following a number of queries from RTE Louth County Council stated that:
"The Council notified An Garda Síochána of the potential offences of the employee and informed An Garda Síochána that the organisation would furnish any information should an investigation be commenced."
When questioned on why the employee was not prosecuted they stated that it, "is entirely a matter for An Garda Síochána".
The Gardai told RTE that:
“No formal complaint was received. Following the completion of a file, the DPP directed No Prosecution in this case."
The employee continues to make weekly repayments with €6,627 still owing, it was reported.
When contacted by the Democrat for comment a council spokesperson said:
"As per the report that issued on RTE Investigates on the 23rd March, a matter of alleged fraud by a staff member came to the attention of Dundalk Town Council some years ago.
"This matter was investigated and disciplinary action was taken, which ultimately resulted in the dismissal of the staff member. Gardai were notified about the matter.
"A repayment plan was put in place to recoup funds taken.
"Safeguards were put in place to mitigate against future occurrences by any other staff members."
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