Principal of Special Needs School Stole €101,000 to Fund Gambling Addiction

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In the headlines for the wrong reason

A principal at a special needs school is set to be sentenced for stealing €101,000 ($108,210) to fund his gambling addiction.

wrote forged signatures on checks paid by the school

Malachy McNulty, 39, wrote forged signatures on checks paid by the school and used a business credit card to direct funds to his account over a three-year period. He admitted to his crimes when confronted by a member of the school’s Board of Management privy to his gambling habit.

It was later revealed that McNulty, who is also coach of a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club, forged signatures on 48 checks and documents in total; he then transferred money from four school accounts to a bank account that he accessed from 2017 to 2019.

Erratic behavior

McNulty’s defense team described his behavior as “chaotic,” with transfers ranging from €20 ($21.44) to four figures. The volatility was attributed to a psychological state of panic and distress.

Portlaoise Circuit Court heard that the former principal had since resigned and already paid back €50,600 ($54,248). These funds came from another job he obtained and had worked at for two years.

All in all, McNulty’s indictment cited 380 incidents.

consider imprisonment, but paying back the school is the priority

Presiding Judge Keenan Johnson said that it was “just staggering” that a gambling addiction could create a “sea of debt.” Johnson also said that he will consider imprisonment, but paying back the school is the priority before concluding that McNulty’s habits had destroyed his career.

A letter from a Rhode GAA secretary said that McNulty was upfront about the case before being appointed as coach. 

More details from the case

The court tragically unearthed how McNulty’s brother took his own life in 2010 as a result of gambling problems. 

Paddy Burne, the person who confronted McNulty, told police that he immediately confessed with no pushback. McNulty then sought out psychiatric health before being admitted to a residential course at ​​the Rutland Centre in Dublin.

A witness told the court that all of the former principal’s money went to gambling and “nothing else.” 

A lead detective told the court that McNulty admitted to his crimes, cooperated fully, and was contrite. His defense team said that he wants to pay back the school whether or not he faces prison time.

One way or another, the account will be settled by the end of the year.”

“One way or another, the account will be settled by the end of the year,” said his team. McNulty was placed on bail and will reappear in court in July.

McNulty was once a top player for a Portlaoise team that won every Laois senior football championship from 2007 to 2014. As a manager, his side won three titles from 2015 to 2018 before he took over at Rhode, which won the Offaly championship in 2020.

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