Celbridge man skimmed McAleese ATM card

Two Romanian men who were part of a skimming gang have been sentenced to five years for laundering E76,020 and possessing a camera device that was used in the scam.

Two Romanian men who were part of a skimming gang have been sentenced to five years for laundering E76,020 and possessing a camera device that was used in the scam.

Vasile Martin and Costel Asimioanei had also been sentenced last month for their role in the operation in which the president’s husband, Dr Martin McAleese, had his ATM card skimmed by some of the group who later created a copy of his card and used it to withdraw €5,000 from his account.

Martin (36) of no fixed abode and Asimioanei (28) of Dara Court, Celbridge, both pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday last (March 22), to three sample charges each of knowingly or being reckless as to whether cash was the proceeds of crime removing it from State with intent to conceal its true nature at various locations in Dublin on dates between August 5 and December 15, 2009.

They also admitted possession of a camera device with the intention that it would be used in connection with theft at Ulster Bank, Terenure on November 20, 2009.

Judge Martin Nolan sentenced Asimioanei to a total of ten years for the possession of skimming equipment and the theft last month.

He suspended six and a half years of the term on condition Asimioanei leaves the county for ten years on his release.

Martin was sentenced to five years with the last 18 months suspended on similar conditions for theft and possessing skimming equipment.

Judge Yvonne Murphy said last week that the gardai were “to be congratulated for the pursuit of this crime and bringing the culprits to justice”.

She described it as a sophisticated operation which involved a large deal of money but accepted garda evidence that neither Martin nor Asimioanei were “the ring leaders”.

Judge Murphy said she was satisfied that had the offences been dealt with by Judge Nolan last month, along with the others, that their sentence may not have been any different.

She sentenced both men to five years in prison with the last 18 months suspended on condition that they leave Ireland upon their release from prison and not return to the country for 12 years.

Judge Murphy ordered that the sentences be served concurrently to those imposed by Judge Nolan in February.

Detective Garda Aileen Kelly told Mr Colm O’Briain BL, prosecuting, that the manager of Ulster Bank in Terenure contacted gardai after he noticed a suspicious device attached to the ATM.

It was later analysed and found to be a camera device used for capturing ATM users’ PIN numbers.

Det Gda Kelly said Asimioanei was captured on CCTV interfering with the machine and was therefore put forward as a suspect. He and his known associates were then placed under garda surveillance.

Gardai suspected that the money which had been stolen had been transferred out of Ireland through Western Union and applied to the company to disclose relative documentation.

Both Martin and Asimioanei were referred to on the paperwork and were subsequently arrested and questioned.

Asimioanei accepted he had transferred a total of €35,620 via Western Union through 17 transactions.

He told gardai that he had been given a cloned card to take money from various bank accounts but would not name the others involved.

He acknowledged that he knew the money he transferred was “sourced from criminal conduct” but claimed there was “an element of duress” and that he owed money to people in Romania.

Martin admitted transferring €40,400 again in 17 transactions. He said he had been working for another Romanian man but would not name him.

Both men admitted to using the camera.

Det Gda Kelly agreed with Ms Anne Rowland BL, defending Asimioanei, that her client was “a foot soldier”

She accepted that there had been “massive publicity” arising out of the case last February in Asimioanei’s home village and that it had been reported on five different news channels there.

Det Gda Kelly agreed with Mr Shane Costelloe BL, defending Martin, that his client had got “a 10 percent cut” from the money he had stolen.

She also accepted that Martin had not been a “ringleader” in the overall operation.