Former aged care director to stand trial on fraud charges
Five years after the ABC revealed the financial collapse of an aged care facility in Melbourne, the home’s former director has pleaded not guilty and will stand trial on four charges of fraud.
- ASIC alleges Gela Newitt dishonestly obtained a financial advantage on two occasions
- It also alleged she dishonestly appropriated deposit money belonging to residents
- Ms Newitt has pleaded not guilty and will return to court in August
Gela Newitt is the former director of Parklane Assets, which ran the 42-bed Mentone Gardens Supportive Care Home facility in Melbourne’s south-east.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) brought the case against Ms Newitt in June 2017.
ASIC alleged that on two occasions, in February 2009 and March 2009, Ms Newitt dishonestly obtained a financial advantage for herself.
It also alleged Ms Newitt falsely represented to residents of Mentone Gardens that their deposit money would be held in a trust account and that interest gained from the money would be used to reduce accommodation fees.
ASIC also alleged that on two occasions, in January 2010 and July 2010, Ms Newitt dishonestly appropriated deposit money belonging to residents of Mentone Gardens with the intention of permanently depriving them of their money.
After maintaining her plea of not guilty in the Country Court today, Ms Newitt was scheduled to stand trial over four weeks starting in August next year.
Ombudsman previously investigated Mentone Gardens
Mentone Gardens has had a controversial history.
The management company, Parklane Assets, was placed in liquidation in 2013, and many residents and their families lost bonds worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The ABC revealed in 2013 that the government-regulated nursing home was allowed to continue to take bonds of up to $250,000 from elderly residents despite the Department of Health having evidence the home was in financial trouble as early as 2011.
Ombudsman Deborah Glass investigated the matter and found a litany of failings by the Department of Health, which had oversight of the privately run aged care home.
Residents have since been paid compensation.