A Brits-based attorney was on Monday sentenced by the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court to 15 years in prison for theft of approximately R30m. Gerard Jacques du Plessis, 52, was hired by the Brits Mall to handle municipal payments on behalf of the mall from February 2017.But, instead of making the monthly payments as agreed, he pocketed the money and supplied fictitious receipts to the manager of the mall, Hawks spokesperson Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso said on Friday. "The deceit by the accused came to light when one day the water and lights for the mall were suddenly switched off by the municipality. "The matter was reported to the Serious Commercial Crime unit of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation and a thorough investigation was conducted. The accused was subsequently arrested in February 2018 in Brits and he was released on R50 000 bail. "He made a series of court appearances until ultimately being found guilty on 22 counts of theft," Rikhotso said.