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'Incompetent forger' worked as Gore mayor's PA

Author
Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Wed, 7 Jun 2023, 11:50am
Shanna Crosbie. Photo / ODT Files
Shanna Crosbie. Photo / ODT Files

'Incompetent forger' worked as Gore mayor's PA

Author
Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Wed, 7 Jun 2023, 11:50am

A woman who forged prescriptions to obtain tramadol and codeine from a Gore pharmacy can now be named as Shanna Marie Crosbie, who was formerly Gore mayor Ben Bell’s personal assistant.

Although the 38-year-old was convicted and sentenced on three fraud charges in the Gore District Court in March, she could not be named after appealing the conviction, sentence and the judge’s refusal to grant her permanent name suppression.

At the appeal hearing in the High Court at Invercargill last week, Justice David Gendall reduced her sentence to 75 hours’ community work and nine months’ supervision, but did not uphold the appeal in relation to name suppression.

Her counsel Bill Wright indicated she would further appeal the suppression ruling, and she was granted interim name suppression for five working days.

No appeal had been filed by yesterday evening.

Shanna Crosbie. Photo / ODT Files

Shanna Crosbie. Photo / ODT Files

Crosbie, who is Bell’s neighbour, was at the centre of a political wrangle in November when Gore District councillors blocked the newly-elected mayor’s request to employ her as his personal assistant.

In a report for the new council’s first meeting on November 22, chief executive Steve Parry said the mayor’s ‘’private personal assistant’' had been assisting Bell with diary management, press releases and travel bookings.

‘’In some instances, the private personal assistant is committing the council to costs despite not being a council employee,’’ Parry said in the report.

‘’The current situation is confusing and poses a reputational risk to the council.’’

The following month, December, Crosbie admitted charges of forging a prescription to obtain property, using a forged prescription, and forging a prescription.

Two other charges were withdrawn by police.

In February last year, she began working as a contractor at the Gore Health Clinic, where she had access to its patient database.

On August 19, she accessed the records of a male patient and used his name to create a prescription for 28 tramadol capsules, along with 11 repeats, forging the signature of a doctor employed by Gore Hospital.

She then presented the prescription at the Gore Pharmacy, and returned on five occasions over the following five weeks, getting a total of 1400 capsules.

On September 29 she accessed the records of another patient to create a prescription for 60 codeine capsules with two repeats, but despite four attempts could not print the document because of a printer malfunction.

Crosbie once worked for Gore mayor Ben Bell as his personal assistant. Photo/ Supplied / Facebook

Crosbie once worked for Gore mayor Ben Bell as his personal assistant. Photo/ Supplied / Facebook

When a clinic employee restarted the printer a few days later, it produced four copies of forged prescription.

The defendant was confronted about her actions on October 5, and told she would be suspended while an investigation was carried out, but she resigned immediately. At her sentencing in March, Wright said her role as a contractor for Gore Health had put her in a position where she could not resist the temptation offered by her access to its systems and confidential database.

It had been unwise of her employer to place her in that position given it was aware of her mental health issues.

Her offending was ‘’absolutely incompetent’', involving the forging of prescriptions in her own name, taking those prescriptions to a pharmacy where she was well-known and a CCTV system was in operation, and even getting her loyalty card stamped, he said.

 ‘’If ever there was an award for the most incompetent forger in history, she would be in the shortlist.’’

At both her sentencing in March and her appeal hearing last week, Wright pleaded for Crosbie’s name to be permanently suppressed, despite his understanding ‘’apparently all of Gore’' knew her identity.

He was concerned that social media ‘’bullying’' could have a severe impact on her fragile mental health.

- Guy Williams, ODT

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