The false education and work history was just the start of an Australian woman’s deceptions to net a government job.
A court found there was also a fake reference, a “Ms. Best” whom Veronica Hilda Theriault herself impersonated, according to the Australian ABC. There was the fake pay slip to negotiate a higher salary of $185,000 and the fake doctor’s letter attesting to her fitness for work right before she was fired.
And the kicker — the photo of Theriault on her LinkedIn profile was actually of American supermodel Kate Upton, according to the ABC.
Theriault lasted about a month as the chief information officer for South Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet, but eventually the ruse broke down. On Tuesday she was sentenced to 25 months in jail — 12 without the possibility of parole — after pleading guilty to deception, dishonesty dealing with documents and abuse of public office, ABC said.
Theriault was hired and fired in 2017, ABC reported, leading an Independent Commissioner Against Corruption for South Australia to investigate the processes that gave her a cushy job as a public servant. Theriault was arrested that September along with her brother, Alan Corkill, who earned thousands from a contract awarded by Theriault, according to the Illawarra Mercury and other news sites.
Theriault’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, nor did the Department of Premier and Cabinet. The Washington Post was unable to reach Corkill, who media sites say pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence.
Corkill was reportedly involved in his sister’s schemes. At Tuesday’s court session, ABC reported, District Court Judge Michael Boylan said Theriault arranged for her brother to give a reference for the accommodation booking company Wotif — where neither she nor her sibling worked.
The fictional Ms. Best also gave “glowing feedback,” Boylan said in court, according to reporters.
Boylan said he considered Theriault’s mental health when deciding her punishment, including her bipolar disorder, according to ABC. A lawyer for Theriault previously told the court that his client stopped taking her medications before committing her offenses and was still getting treatment.
But the judge said the woman’s crimes were serious.
“You fraudulently obtained employment for which you were paid a large salary and in the course of which you may have had access to sensitive material,” he said, according to the news outlet.
Another tale of faked credentials that made headlines last month on the other side of the world. Former senior State Department Mina Chang resigned after NBC News found she used an inflated resume and fake Time magazine cover to obtain her government position. The incident further heightened scrutiny of the Trump administration’s vetting process.
Chang, however, did not face jail time, and denied creating the Time cover even as she bowed to demands she step down.
At the time, Change said her resignation should be interpreted “as a protest and not as surrender.”