FORMER Riverina accountant Heather Maree Grace has been sentenced to 18 months' jail for embezzling more than $31,000 from animal rescue groups.
Grace, who previously resided in Cootamundra, appeared in Tweed Heads Local Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to seven counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.
She also pleaded guilty to one count of publishing false and misleading material to obtain advantage.
Magistrate Geoffrey Dunlevy imposed a non-parole period of nine months on the 49-year-old and ordered her to pay a total of $31,254 to the seven animal rescue groups.
Court document state that between 2015 and 2017, Grace contacted seven animal welfare groups and offered free accounting services, gaining their trust before later misdirecting their tax refunds.
After initially delivering her services to animal rescue groups free, she started charging her clients 5 per cent of the total amount of tax for each organisation.
Then after claiming GST rebates on behalf of the groups, she started to have refunds from the Australian Taxation Office directed to her own bank account.
At the time of the offences, Grace was operating Been Accounting in Cootamundra. In June 2017, a fire at the premises destroyed the financial records.
Court documents state that the insurance fraud occurred shortly after when a Toyota Prado collided with a trailer.
She claimed she was the driver of the vehicle so an insurance claim for $23,900 would be awarded.
However, a police investigation revealed Grace had been elsewhere and could not have been the driver.