A former project manager for a Christian charity has been jailed after stealing £216,000 from the organisation.
On 29 March, Lee Martin Patterson was sentenced to three years and four months' imprisonment for fraud related offences against Leeds-based Bramley Family Support Project (BFSP).
Patterson, 51 from Huddersfield, had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position and two offences of fraud by false representation.
Detective constable Kate Hardaker of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Fraud Team (YHRFT) said Patterson’s offences occurred over a prolonged period of time while he was employed by the charity.
Hardaker said that between 2008 and 2012, Patterson abused his position of trust and authorised withdrawals and payments from the charity bank accounts, amounting to over £216,000.
She said he manufactured his own version of BFSP’s annual financial reports to hide his offending from the trustees.
YHRFT began an investigation after other charity employees voiced their concerns to the trustees over a misuse of funds.
Hardaker said Patterson has “ultimately stripped the charity of thousands of pounds that would have been used to provide emotional and practical support to disadvantaged children and their families”.
“He has clearly shown no regard for the consequences of his actions and seemingly cared more about personal gain than for those in the community he was charged with caring for,” she said.
Confiscation proceedings will now be conducted by the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team with a hearing set for the 6 July in order that the stolen funds can be recovered and repaid to the charity.
BFSP's trustees said in a statement: "The trustees welcome the fact that after five years of investigation, Mr Patterson has partially admitted his guilt in producing false accounts and siphoning off charitable funds for his personal use.
"Mr Patterson’s fraudulent actions directly led to the suspension of the charitable activities of the Project with subsequent staff redundancies as well as leaving many vulnerable families in the Leeds area, where the charity operated, unable to access its services.
"The trustees wish to thank DC Kate Hardaker of the West Yorkshire Police who doggedly pursued this case to completion."
A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: "The Commission has warned charities to stay alert to the risk of insider fraud and to take measures to protect their assets such as strengthening their internal financial controls and avoiding placing excessive trust in individuals.
"We have engaged with the Bramley Family Support Project who took appropriate action by reporting this as a serious incident to the Commission and to the police.”