Former NGAI Tauira Treasurer Wi Nepia, convicted of fraud late last year, has been released on parole after serving over a third of his sentence.
Nepia was sentenced to two years and two months imprisonment after being found guilty of fraud last November. The presiding judge concluded that he had defrauded the Maori Students’ Association of over $160,000 between 2001 and 2003, partly to fund his gambling addiction.
An application for parole had previously been denied in May, with the Parole Board ruling that Nepia had failed to provide evidence that he “would not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community.” However, the Board advised that Nepia could reapply in three months “once more definite arrangements” had been settled.
A second hearing in August saw Nepia released, subject to several special conditions.
The Board ruled that Nepia must not be “engaged, in a paid or unpaid capacity, in any position involved in the handling of finances without the prior written approval from the Probation Officer.” He must also complete counseling for problem gambling, and not “enter premises that hold a gambling license.” A spokesperson for the Parole Board says that the Board has chosen to extend the parole conditions beyond the end of his sentence, until next year, to create “a safety net for the community until August 2008.”
If Nepia breaches any of the conditions he can be sent back to prison. Current Ngai Tauira President Maryjane Waru was surprised by Nepia’s release, saying “I suppose everyone gets out, but we just expected him to be in there longer.”
She adds she was disappointed that she was not made aware of Nepia’s impending release. “It would have been nice to have known,” she says.
However, the Board’s spokesperson says that “Mr. Nepia has no registered victims, and therefore no-one for us to contact to inform them of an upcoming hearing.” Victim registration is usually performed by the Police during the conviction or sentencing.