When Veronica Theriault applied for the lucrative position of chief information officer within the South Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) in mid-2017, she did so under false pretenses.
On her dodgy CV, she made a series of false claims, including being an experienced ICT professional with over 20 years of experience in senior tech leadership positions. She faked a series of university degrees and used a false alias to act as her own referee. We’re not sure what her legitimate CV looks like, but unfortunately she will now have to add convicted felon to the document.
Theriault’s punishment for faking CV
In September 2017, Theriault was arrested by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) and charged with a string of offences, including deception, dishonestly dealing with documents and abuse of public office. At the time, she’d worked in her position for a little over a month and earned $33,000 of her annual $270,000 salary.
On Tuesday (December 2, 2019), Theriault was sentenced. Pleading guilty to all charges, relating to the fraudulent securing of the DPC position, Theriault was sentenced by District Court Judge Michael Boylan to 25 months in jail with a non-parole period of 12 months, which takes into account Theriault’s bipolar disorder, among other mental health issues.
“This is serious offending – you fraudulently obtained employment for which you were paid a large salary and in the course of which you may have had access to sensitive material,” Boylan said.
What the judge had to say about her crimes
During sentencing, Judge Boylan said Theriault’s offending was sophisticated and required planning. Her CV included fabricated education, references and work history, including previous employment at Wotif.
“That CV led to you being interviewed for the job — you supplied that document to the Department of Premier and Cabinet and [it] is the basis for dishonestly dealing with documents,” Boylan said.
“You arranged that your brother would supply a reference to the department in which he said he worked for you when you were employed at Wotif,” he said.
“That reference contained false information — neither you nor your brother had ever worked at Wotif.”
In addition, Theriault pretended to be her own referee – a previous employer called “Ms Best” – giving DPC recruiters a glowing reference of herself during the application process.
It wasn’t just Theriault’s CV that claimed her tenure at Wotif, but her LinkedIn profile too, which also displayed a photo of model Kate Upton as it was her own.
Worse still, Judge Boylan confirmed Theriault organised for her brother, Alan Hugh Melville Corkill, to be awarded a Government contract worth $21,000. Corkill has received a suspended sentence for his role in the fraud.
In handing down Theriault’s conviction, Judge Boylan considered a number of other misconduct issues, which didn’t form part of the charges. In order to secure a higher salary, Theriault provided a falsified pay slip demonstrating an amount she’d previously earned in the private sector. And shortly before her DPC employment ended, she also supplied a falsified doctor’s letter claiming she was fit for work.
How the whole saga could have been prevented?
During Theriault’s trial, the court heard that her crimes could have been detected much earlier than they actually were. Not only did she lie to get her DPC gig, but she also used resumes with false information to gain employment at two other companies in 2012, and again in 2014.
Thorough pre-employment screening – including a background check of Theriault’s previous employment and education, plus third-party reference checks – would have detected it all, and prevented Theriault’s fraud and the damage it caused. Not only did her appointment cause the DPC great embarrassment, the legal costs, and cost of the ICAC investigation, are hefty and likely to be several hundred thousand dollars.
Third-party employment screening is affordable, secure and fast, and is the most effective way for businesses to protect against hiring risks and ensure they’ve made good hiring decisions.
(cover photo credit: 7news.com.au)