A WOMAN who organised scores of charity “loto” prize draws has been fined €123,000 for fraud and given a six month suspended prison sentence.
Known as Mamie Loto, 77-year-old grandmother Yvette Bert from Saint-Omer had hosted 169 charity draws in the Pas-de-Calais region over four years from 2009 and said as she left court: “I want to die.”
Mme Bert added: “I cannot and I will not pay because I have done nothing wrong. I was trying to help others.”
The court at Arras was told that of the €410,000 raised just €27,000 was passed on to charity groups – but Mme Bert’s lawyer attacked the claims saying the prosecution’s sums were wrong.
She said the figure of €410,000 did not take into account the cost of organising events and hiring halls (one hall cost €24,000 over a year) and Mme Bert’s accounts showed at least €60,000 had been passed on, not including cash donations.
Mme Bert, who has been supported by more than 40,000 people in an online petition, said she had raised funds for the association “Ensemble pour l’espoir” [Together for hope].
Gaming laws ban draws which have a prize fund of more than €20 and Mme Bert was accused of running an illegal casino and not paying tax on the proceeds.
She is the latest “animateur” to have been taken to court for organising charity draws – with one previous case seeing the draw organiser fined €2.6million.