Civil servant admits stealing €2,576 to feed gambling and alcohol addictions

September 3, 2018

A civil servant paid benefits to people and then ordered them to cash the cheques and pay the cash back to him.

Peter Gallagher appeared in court charged with two sample charges after defrauding the Department of Social Protection out of €2,576.20.

Letterkenny District Court heard evidence of two sample charges out of seven charges.

Gallagher, 53, was employed for six years as a Community Welfare Officer at the Department of Social Protection during which he distributed various benefits to clients.

On two occasions between 2010 and 2012, he issued cheques by wire transfer to two different people for €215.50 and €186.

However, at later dates, he contacted the clients and told them they had been overpaid.

He ordered them to cash the cheques and to give him back the cash, which they did.

The court was told that Gallagher, from Ballyshannon, never gave this cash back to the Department of Social Protection.

An investigation was carried out by Gardai and the Department and it was discovered that a total of €2,567.20 was unaccounted for.

Solicitor for the accused, Mr Rory O’Brien, said his client was addicted to both gambling and drinking when he took the money.

He said he was well-known in the Ballyshannon area from where he was from and was heavily involved in the community and was a former manager of the Ballyshannon senior GAA team.

He added that his client was now planning on taking out a credit union loan to pay back the money he owed to the Department of Social Protection.

Mr O’Brien added that his client was very remorseful for what had happened and has already suffered greatly in his local community who were aware of what had happened.

Gallagher was dismissed from his post in 2015 following the investigation and is now unemployed.

Judge Paul Kelly adjourned the case until November 5th for a probation and community service report.