An Australian man was sentenced to four years in jail after he was found to have stolen more than $200,000 from his daughter’s kindergarten association. The money was used to fuel the man’s compulsive gambling habit.

Periclis Telios pleaded guilty to one count of theft, admitting that he had stolen A$224,008.49 ($207,000 US) from the Ward Avenue Kindergarten Association between February and October 2012. Telios had gained access to the association’s funds when he became the committee president in November of the previous year.

Dipping Into Funds

The association is a volunteer organization that oversees all of the kindergarten’s non-teaching activities. The funds in the association budget were meant for expenses like maintenance, new equipment, and trips and activities, along with normal daily operating expenses. The money was raised from a combination of fundraisers, grants, and fees.

Soon after Telios began to steal funds from the association, it became apparent to the group’s treasurer and others that there was a severe shortfall, and it didn’t take long to get to the root of the problem.

Lifetime of Problem Gambling

Telios, 41, is married with two children. According to County Court Judge Carolyn Douglas, Telios admitted when he was arrested that he had been a problem gambler for more than 25 years, even since he was first taken to a casino as a child. While the admission only came after he was caught, the judge did accept that Telios was remorseful for his actions, and that he was stealing to pay off debts, not out of sheer greed. Still, she said that his position was one of trust, and violating that trust was a serious offense.

“In your position in the kindergarten in a local community referred to as grass roots you held a position of trust and responsibility with the organization, which consisted of other parents of children in the area,” Judge Douglas said. “I accept that you have been punished by the fact that you live among the people you have adversely affected and have been reminded of your offending directly. Your family have also suffered…and a decision has been made not to send your young daughter to the local school because the families continue to express anger towards you.”

Telios’ sentence includes a two-year non-parole period. He had previous convictions for dishonest behavior before becoming the association president.