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No-Problem-boss jailed

No-Problem Orchestra conductor Josef Schörkmayr who is accused of stealing almost half a million Euros from the organisation's account has been hgiven a 3.5 year jail term.

The No Problem-orchestra is an association which works with disabled people in providing music therapy.

Between 2000 and 2010, the orchestra performed worldwide in front of Hollywood stars such as Michael Douglas or the Pope – giving the handicapped youngsters their fame. It's during in the Golden Age of the association that the allegations take place.

In the opening statement, prosecution lawyer Sandra Agnoli spoke of excessive travel allowances, costly business trips, meals in luxurious hotels, costs for a lawn-mower, beauty treatments paid for with the association's account. In just one year (2006), 75 percent of all expenditure can be traced back to Schörkmayr. When questioned before the court in Klagenfurt (Carinthia),  Schörkmayr assured having spent the association's money exclusively for the use of the children.

Judge Uwe Dumpelnik asked: "Who did the accounting?" Schörkmayr answered: "I did all of that." He erased traces of excessive spending and gave the receipts to the tax advisor, who was responsible for accounts closing. The judged ask the suspect: "And what did the accountant do? " He answered: "He looked at it and said: that's all okay."

The board of executives, made up of  Schörkmayr, his wife and one representative only called for a general assembly every five years, instead of every year, as stipulated by statutes.

Schörkmayr had regularly made furtherances to the region (Carinthia) but had cut down in the last few years. Spokesperson Christian Ragger said that the region had asked for 100,000 to be paid in damages – every penny due will be paid back, he added.

Schörkmayr said that he planned to emigrate to America when he received an offer from the late regional governor Jörg Haider and created in 1990 the charitable organisation "No Problem" for the treatment of handicapped children through music. He has been the chair of the charity since day one.

The judge went through the court's list point by point. The lawn-mower, for instance, was bought in 2000 for the handicapped playground, Schörkmayr said. There were also bills for water rates at Schörkmayr's house in Grafenstein. The costs of setting up a sauna were also taken out of the account. He justified the food and alcohol bills by telling the court he often had up to 10 children stay at his house.

The board of directors – Schörkmayr and his wife, who didn't know about her function on the board until her questioning. This so-called board of directors then grants the expenditure – from gas and electricity bills to expensive German-made shoes and some 150 bottles of wine, which he claims the board of directors gave him as a birthday present. These bills were all reimbursed by the region of Carinthia – always presented in a bulk under the label "concert expenses" rather than on their own.

The suspect and his wife also decided in 2005 to award themselves 6,600 Euros a month for travel costs and expenses. He said: "Most of the time I didn't get it though, because there wasn't any money there. That's why I'm completely poverty-stricken." Poverty-stricken, yes - but with an annual salary of 39,000 Euros.

The third member of the board of directors told the police that Schörkmayr had taken all the decisions alone and that he had had no insight into the organisation's finances.
Schörkmayr also paid his social security contributions and life insurance with the "No-Problem"-account. He explained his reason before court: he is still owed 844,000 Euros. He hasn't received my monthly expenses or the rent for the keyboard he engineered. The organisation also paid for his children's phone bills. Schörkmayr said: "That was totally important – they worked for the charity." Speeding fines have also been paid for by "No Problem".

A witness said she has only been the association's secretary on paper and that she only found out about this when interrogated. Schörkmayr had wanted her on the board of directors, but she had told him that she couldn't and wouldn’t be able to work with him because of the distance. She has never taken part in a general meeting or been notified.

Her brother played in the orchestra and she had driven him there, which is how she got to know  Schörkmayr. She also said the musicians and their parents had always been fed at  Schörkmayr's house and never paid a penny.

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