So that's why Sharon was so quiet in the office
A solicitor who was jailed for defrauding a cancer charity and council has been ordered to pay back £7,800.
Solicitor Kalvinder Garcha, and co-conspirator Lynn Middleton, created a fake employee at a Leicestershire council.
The phantom staffer was Middleton's sister, Sharon Reeve, who didn't work for the council and lived in Spain. The council paid her a purported salary, which she then transferred to her sister.
Garcha and Middleton claimed that Reeve worked from home or attended the office when it was empty, and created emails and documents to cover their tracks.
They scammed the council out of around £37,600 for a two year period from 2012. Middleton pocketed most of the money herself, but handed over cash in envelopes to Garcha, totalling about £7,000. In 2014, the council launched a new IT system, which prevented them from carrying on the scam.
The duo, then defrauded a small local charity, Coping with Cancer, as Garcha was the chair and Middleton was a trustee. They managed to scam the charity for seven weeks, and steal £3,600 (which was all trousered by Middleton).
At their trial last year at the Leicester Crown Court, the judge said "At a time when the council made many people redundant to save public funds, you two were in the business of stealing it."
The judge added that the pair also "disgracefully embarked on a fraud on a charity," stealing "funds that are of huge importance to those in need," according to a report.
The court sentenced Garcha to two years and six months in prison, Middleton was jailed for one year and six months.
A Sue Young Cancer Support spokeswoman (the new name for the charity), said at the time that the charity offered "palliative care" to "help people enjoy what little time they have left. To deny people that is beyond reproach."
Garcha has now been issued with a Proceeds of Crime Act order of £7,800, to repay the stolen money. Middleton had previously been ordered to pay over £53,000.
Speaking for the local council swindled by the pair, John Boyce said: ‘We always felt it was important to first achieve justice in this case, and then to pursue the money lost as a result of this sophisticated fraud."
He added that the council, and the cancer charity "were victims in this case and we’ve fought for a long time to get to this point.’