A karate black belt who worked as a trainer on the television show Gladiators has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for defrauding $95,000 from the government in bogus small business grant claims.
Kim Sheree, 42, was the managing director of Wireless International Systems, an information communications and technology business that was awarded several grants by the Department of State Development between 2002 and 2004, the Brisbane District Court heard.
Sheree is a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” and in her online biography she says she worked as a trainer for Channel 7’s Gladiators program in 1995.
The grants were awarded to Wireless International Systems under a Queensland Government scheme which rewarded small businesses for investing in new technology.
Businesses were reimbursed 50% of the costs incurred in researching and developing new technology.
The court heard that Sheree and the company’s chief executive Peter Gaynor Andresen, 72, submitted fake receipts and invoices for work they claimed had been completed by “third party providers” to obtain three grants totalling $95,000.
The pair used some of the funds on hairdressers and groceries and once submitted an invoice for $18,000 despite having only paid the service provider the sum of $2,000.
Sheree and Andresen were found guilty of aggravated fraud, forgery and uttering a forged document, which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years, but the pair escaped with a two-and-a-half year sentence, which is to be suspended after three months.
Prosecutor Michael Lehane said the pair’s fraud was only revealed when a disgruntled business associate uncovered it by obtaining the company’s account records under Freedom of Information laws.
“They were asking taxpayers and the government to assist their business by their fraudulent activities,” the Herald Sun reports Lehane told the court.
“The money could have been distributed to more deserving businesses.”
Sheree and Andresen have a record of not paying bills, with court records showing debt claims dating back to 2005.