Lani Lopez has been discharged without conviction after pleading guilty to privately prosecuted charges of theft and dishonestly using a document.
The celebrity naturopath, charged under the name Elena Charnley, appeared in Auckland district court this afternoon.
The charges were brought as a private prosecution by her former business partner, Daniel King, who bought her out of her health supplements business, About Health, in 2010.
According to a summary of facts read to the court, Ms Charnley took $2000 from a bank account belonging to About Health in May 2011, seven months after she sold her stake in the business.
Ms Charnley contacted Kiwibank and asked for the account to be closed and the balance be transferred to her daughters bank account.
Mr King discovered what had happened three months later and reported it to the police, but they declined to take action because of "current workload commitments."
Subsequently, Mr King decided to start private prosecution.
In court today, Judge Ema Aitken told Ms Charnley she was discharging her without conviction because a conviction would outweigh the gravity of the offending.
“You were under an extraordinary amount of both personal and professional pressures,” Judge Aitken told Ms Charnley.
“At best, this can be classed as very naive offending.
“You have made full reparation. You did not attempt to use the money in the account at the time.
“It is fair to describe it as offending very much towards the lower end of the scale.”
Judge Aitken told Ms Charnley if she were convicted, it would likely have an adverse effect on her business, her physical and mental health, and the ability for her to act as a company director.
“That would be wholly disproportionate to the gravity of your offending,” Judge Aitken said.
It was revealed in court that Ms charnley repaid the $2,000 she took, paid $10,000 prosecution costs, and paid $5000 to charity.
“Those well exceed any financial penalty the court might have imposed if you were convicted,” Judge Aitken said.
Mr King did not oppose Ms Charnley being discharged without conviction.
EARLIER: Naturopath Lani Lopez is due back in Auckland district court today on privately prosecuted theft and dishonesty charges.
Charged under the name Elena Charnley, the television and radio advertising front woman has previously pleaded not guilty.
The charges are made by her former business partner Daniel King, who claims she took $2000 from a bank account belonging to About Health, a health supplements business she sold to Mr King.
Mr King claims she transferred the money into her daughter's account after he bought her out of the business in 2010.
It is not clear what form today's proceedings will take and if the case will proceed to a defended hearing or not.
In the Auckland High Court last Friday a civil matter between About Health Supplements and Ms Charnley was held in chambers before Associate Judge Tony Christiansen.
No details were available.
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