Ex-director stole sports gear grants from clubs

A former Christchurch sports director created false documents to steal more than $180,000 worth of grants for sports gear from various organisations.

Mark Cini used his company Action Indoor Sports Centre Hornby to create 26 false documents to obtain the grants, which he then transferred into his personal account.

The 59-year-old appeared at the Christchurch District Court yesterday where he pleaded guilty to 26 charges of forgery, 11 of theft by a person in a special relationship and two of dishonest use of a document.

The summary of facts states Cini was the director of Action Indoor Sports Centre in Hornby.

Cini was also on the board of several sports governing bodies such as New Zealand Indoor Sport Inc (NZIS) and Southern Indoor Sports Inc (SIS).

He was also involved with various sports and cricket clubs which all received grant funding from Air Rescue Service (ARS).

Cini was also the manager of Robbie’s sports bar in Riccarton and, according to the summary of facts, was appointed to oversee gambling at the venue.

The bar is also owned by a company called Jacquesy Holdings Ltd (JHL), which Cini is one of the directors for.

The summary of facts states the Gambling Act 2023 prohibits overlap between those involved in the generation of grant funding and the subsequent distribution of grant funding.

As an employer at Action Indoor Sports Centre, Cini prepared grant applications for buying sporting goods or paying entry fees for various tournaments, but his name never appeared on these applications.

The grants would often be for cricket balls for indoor tournaments, netball uniforms and bowling balls, totalling up to $26,000.

Once grants were approved and paid, Cini transferred the money from the recipient’s bank account into his own personal account.

He then created false documents with invoices and bank records to be submitted to ARS, purporting the grant funds had been spent in accordance with the authorised purpose and instructing his staff to sign them off.

Cini repeated this, creating a total of 26 false documents from 2018 to 2020 until the Department of Internal Affairs turned up at his sports centre in Hornby with a search warrant on June 29, 2022.

Cini’s computer was searched, revealing his fraudulent offending amounted to $182,761.64.

His lawyer Simon Shamy said he had paid almost $160,000 in reparation but was short of $3000, which would be paid by the time he was sentenced.

Judge Murray Hunt remanded Cini on bail until his sentencing on June 12.