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Former Dual claims manager gets 9.5 years' jail

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Former Dual Australia claims manager Josie Gonzalez has been sentenced to 9.5 years in jail and her husband Alvaro to 7.5 years for defrauding the underwriting agency of $17.4 million.

County Court of Victoria Judge Paul Lacava this morning described Josie as the mastermind and principal perpetrator of the fraud, which was prolonged and became more audacious as it progressed.

“What you did had the potential to destroy the business of Dual,” he said. “In my view, most of your evidence was a concoction of lies.”

Josie will serve a minimum 7 years before being eligible for parole, while Alvaro will serve a minimum 5 years.

Judge Lacava said he believed Alvaro had been encouraged into the deception by his wife, but had also played an active role in supporting the fraud and had benefitted from the proceeds, including through the purchase of a $4.7 million property in Kew.

“I conclude that you both lived very well on the proceeds of the fraud at the expense of Dual before being caught out,” he said.

He described the actions of the couple as “disgraceful”.

Judge Lacava said he took into account that Dual was repaid the stolen funds and that the couple have two daughters aged six and 11 who are being cared for by relatives.

The couple have been in custody for 106 days since early July when they were found guilty by a jury on 14 charges of cheating the underwriting agency.

Some of the charges involve claims of more than $50,000 and carry a maximum penalty of 20 years.

The couple began falsely billing Dual a few months after Josie joined the company in November 2010. Some 428 invoices were submitted from Jaag Lawyers, a firm they set up to carry out the crime. “Jaag” is an acronym of Josie and Alvaro Gonzalez.

More details in the regular Daily bulletin this afternoon.