'Reprehensible': Plumber in hot water over $400k solar fraud
A "SELFISH and reprehensible" former footy star tradie ripped off $400,000 from a southeast Queensland business by pretending to install around 425 hot-water systems across the state.
Qualified plumber Brett Stephen Muldoon pocketed around $7500 a week in the scam against Emerging Energy Solutions over 12 months, using the ill-gotten funds to feed his gambling habit.
He pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court on Monday to one charge of fraud and producing false documents.
The former Queensland-level footballer and Caloundra league star was sentenced to four and a half years in jail, but only has to serve 15 months behind bars.
Muldoon's ongoing fraud against the business occurred over 12 months between September 2013 and September 2014.
The 34-year-old father of two falsified 425 Clean Energy Regulator certificates, using these as proof of him installing hundreds of solar-powered hot-water systems.
However, he did not install one system listed on the paperwork.
He also submitted photos of systems that were already installed and forged the signatures of homeowners to prove that he had done the work.
These certificates were then sold to Emerging Energy Solutions for $29 to $37 each.
The Federal Government program allows for these small-scale technology certificates to be traded to a registered agent like Emerging Energy Solutions for cash or product discounts.
Emerging Energy Solutions paid Muldoon for 415 of 423 certificates, not realising they had no value for almost a year.
The offending only came to light when the business suspected something was not right and a manager confronted Muldoon, who fully admitted his offending to the business and investigators.
Judge William Everson said it was clear Muldoon had a chronic gambling disorder.
Judge Everson said Muldoon's family - who were in court to support the defendant - had to live with him breaking the law as well as having to pay off his debts.
"In circumstances where members of your family have had to sell assets, on a personal level your conduct is selfish and reprehensible," Judge Everson said.
"In the past your family bailed you out but it did not stop you and now you are facing a period in prison."
Judge Everson took into account Muldoon's admissions and co-operation with the Clean Energy Regulator investigators and police.
He also acknowledged Muldoon's defence that he suffered from depression and that he had taken steps to deal with this gambling problem.
Muldoon's sentence will be suspended for four and a half years after he has served 15 months.
Emerging Energy Solutions did not respond to a request for comment.