Former Sydney Ferries boss Geoff Smith has been jailed for more than three years for using a work credit card to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Smith, who pleaded guilty to fraud, spent more than $200,000 on cars, holidays and home renovations.
The court heard Smith, who had served in the navy for more than 30 years and was an officer of the Order of Australia, signed a document saying he would only use the credit card for work purposes.
Justice Michael Finnane told Downing Centre Court Smith "knew full well at all times" he was committing fraud when he spent thousands on two BMW cars, holidays and expensive pool and landscaping at his homein St Ives.
He sentenced Smith to three years and four months with a non-parole period of 18 months.
Justice Finnane told the court that Smith was defrauding Sydney ferries from the time he received the credit card in 2006.
However, the Crown chose not to prosecute him for the offences between 2006 and 2008.
Justice Finnane expressed his discontent with this decision, but said he was bound by the law, saying: "I must accept that he committed no offence before 2008".
Smith was sacked as chief executive of Sydney ferries in 2009 after an ICAC investigation uncovered his fraudulent activity.
The court heard he paid back about half of the money he stole, but was declared bankrupt in 2010.
The court also heard when the 64-year-old gave evidence, he said he felt no choice but to spend the money because of his wife's expectations.Judge 'sorry' for offender's wife
Justice Finnane said he does not accept that.
"I feel very sorry for the offender's wife. She clearly did not know of his fraudulent conduct until shortly before he sold their home in September 2009," he said.
"She has been a very ill person for some years and instead of having the retirement home of which she dreamed, she has no home at all and an uncertain state of future health."
However he said that was not enough to deter him from sentencing Smith to time behind bars, adding that the couple had two grown sons who could support Smith's wife.
"The offender is a man of great talent, who in my opinion regarded himself as being entitled to do what he did," the judge said.
Nonetheless the judge said it was a tragedy that a man who was held in such high regard would be now sitting before the courts awaiting sentencing for fraud.
When the judge handed down Smith's sentence, his wife burst into tears.
The couple's two sons sat next to her with one putting his arm around her, but she broke free to rush to her husband's side, hugging him and sobbing.
Corrective Services officers allowed Smith, who looked rattled but remained composed, some time to say goodbye to his family.