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Mary Ann Abellanoza sentenced to five years in prison for stealing $3.7M from Silversea cruises

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Unassuming bookkeeper, 53, is jailed for stealing $3.7M from her luxury cruise line employer after withdrawing half the fortune from a single ATM

  • Mary Ann Abellanoza, 53, has been sentenced to at least five years in prison 
  • She stole $3.7million from her luxury cruise line employers over five years
  • The western Sydney mother claimed she stole to cover her gambling addiction 

A woman who stole nearly $4million from the luxury cruise line who employed her has been jailed for at least five years.

Mary Ann Abellanoza, 53, was sentenced on charges of knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime and obtaining financial gain dishonestly at Sydney’s Downing Centre on Tuesday. She previously pleaded guilty.

The former bookkeeper had been working for Silversea cruise line when she stole $3.7million between 2013 and 2018.  

Mary Ann Abellanoza (pictured), 53, has been sentenced to at least five years in prison after she embezzled $3.7million from her former employers

Mary Ann Abellanoza (pictured), 53, has been sentenced to at least five years in prison after she embezzled $3.7million from her former employers

Abellanoza created false vendors and diverted money meant for suppliers into her own accounts. 

She would then withdraw most of the money from ATMs in RSLs. At one RSL – Rooty Hill – Abellanoza withdrew $1.8million from one ATM over the five years. 

The western Sydney mother said she stole the money to feed her gambling addiction. 

Abellanoza lost $398,000 of the stolen money on gambling, according to news.com.au.

Judge Jane Culver said Abellanoza didn’t have a gambling problem, but used poker machines to launder the money.

‘The offender appeared to have created a gambling account around the time of the criminal activity,’ the judge said.

The former bookkeeper had been working at Silversea cruise line (pictured) when she stole $3.7million between 2013 and 2018

The former bookkeeper had been working at Silversea cruise line (pictured) when she stole $3.7million between 2013 and 2018

‘These figures don’t suggest this money was used in bottomless pit of gambling. She was clearly putting money through gaming machines and then obtaining from hotels or RSLs a cheque to launder the ill-gotten gains.’

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Abellanoza said she wanted to pay back the money she had stolen. 

Her lawyers told the court part of the reason she committed the fraud was because she felt ‘undervalued’ and ‘hard done by’ after being promised a personal assistant, which never happened, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The cruise liner denied they had offered to hire her an assistant.  

Her lawyers argued poor mental health and a tough childhood in the Philippines contributed to the theft.   

She withdrew most of the money from ATMs in RSLs. At one RSL - Rooty Hill (pictured) - Abellanoza withdrew $1.8million over the five years

She withdrew most of the money from ATMs in RSLs. At one RSL – Rooty Hill (pictured) – Abellanoza withdrew $1.8million over the five years

Abellanoza wrote a letter to the court expressing her remorse but the judge questioned the validity of her words.

She said Abellanoza spent the money on trips to America and sending money to the Philippines. 

Abellanoza joined the company in 2009 and was entitled to many privileges – including an annual free cruise and a $88,000 pay packet. 

She was sentenced to eight years in prison with a non-parole period of five years.   

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