A 52-year-old solicitor has been imprisoned for 12 months after pleading guilty to forging health insurance claim forms.

Patrick Enright, of Glenlarehan, Castleisland in Co Kerry, and his brother, Denis, pleaded guilty to nine counts of forgery, with intent to defraud a US health insurance company of over $19,000 (€14,500).

Denis Enright, a farmer, of Knockardtry, Castleisland, received a 12-month suspended sentence.

Tralee Circuit Criminal Court was told that Patrick Enright is a solicitor based in Castleisland.

Between 1988 and 1994, he worked for a company called Nylerin in the town that processed health insurance claim forms for the New York Insurance Company.

Prosecution barrister Tom Rice told the court last February that seven claims were made on behalf of people who did not submit those claims, and a doctor, Dr John Coyle of 8th Avenue, New York, who signed off on them, does not exist. The amounts varied from $1,900 to $4,800.

Following week-long legal argument, both men changed their pleas to guilty.

At the sentencing hearing today, investigating Detective Garda Jim O'Donovan told the court it was far from being a clever plot, and it was going to be found out sooner or later.

The fraud came to light in 1994 when it was spotted that a change of address form for the same address was filed for all seven claimants.

Judge Carroll Moran said that there was a serious breach of trust by Patrick Enright, not only as a solicitor, but as a former employee of Nylerin.

He accepted there was a 19-year delay in the case coming to court, but said that was on foot of applications by Patrick Enright to the High Court, the Supreme Court and even the European Court.

He sentenced him to 12 months in prison and refused leave to appeal.