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€1m scammer dodges jail because she has small child

A woman who admitted to stealing some €1m from various individuals escaped prison on Tuesday due to a law which essentially prohibits custodial sentences for pregnant women or mothers of children under three-years-old under certain criteria.

Isavella Constantinou, a former banker, was fined €125,000 – not payable immediately – after she admitted to charges including obtaining money under false pretences and money laundering in connection with taking around €1.04m from friends, co-workers and family promising high-yield investments.

She is the mother of a boy who will be two in May.

Police had told the court that over €2m had passed through the woman’s hands since March 2011 but she had returned half of it.

The court heard that the 36-year-old, who used to work for Piraeus Bank before she got the sack because of the case, had defrauded two groups of people.

To her co-workers at the bank she had lied, saying her husband, also a bank employee at Hellenic, had successfully donated bone marrow, something she said the bank had rewarded him for by allowing him access to a high-interest account in which they could invest.

To her friends and relatives, according to her statement, she had also lied, saying due to her low salary but high work performance she had been rewarded with the right to take part in a high interest investment plan they could share in.

The woman was arrested in October last year but on Tuesday she was set free because of a law that bans, under certain conditions, the state from jailing pregnant women or mothers of children under the age of three.

Passed in 2005, the law states that custodial sentence cannot be imposed unless the court judges the offence serious enough, taking into account its nature in combination with the circumstances.

Also, jail time cannot be imposed unless violence has been exercised against an individual while committing the offence and the court judges that the mother constitutes a danger to society.

These provisions will not be enforced if the offences in question relate to domestic violence – mother against her underage child or stepchild, or any other minor living with her – or they violate drugs laws.

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