A former employee at Autism East Midlands has been jailed after admitting to spending charitable funds on private holidays and days out.
Police began investigating in 2018 and found Dawn Franklin had spent £145,000 of the charity's money without permission. She spent the money on personal holidays, electrical items, days out and concert tickets.
As regional play and leisure coordinator at the charity, Franklin was responsible for organising residential trips for children and young people with autism between 2011 and 2018. This meant she was entrusted with credit and debit cards to book these days out.
However, she also used the cards to pay for 14 holidays for family and friends and regularly made fraudulent petty cash transactions. Until 2018, when the fraud was discovered, Franklin concealed her crimes by making fake receipts, false invoices and overcharging local authorities to compensate for the money she had stolen.
Last Friday the 47-year-old appeared at Nottingham Crown Court and pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position of trust, fraud by false representation and false accounting. She was jailed for three years and four months.
‘Betrayed her position of trust’
Autism East Midlands is the largest specialist autism charity in the region and provides support to people with autism through education, residential trips and day services. The charity’s income is over £12m, with a spending of £11.84m.
Jane Howson, chief executive of Autism East Midlands, said: “The trustees and senior management team of Autism East Midlands were shocked and distressed by the fraud conducted by Dawn Franklin. She betrayed her position of trust within the charity and the trust of the families she was employed to support.”
Howson continued: “We are very glad that this has now come to a conclusion and that justice has been done.
“In the three years since this was discovered we have continued to grow the charity and support even more autistic people and their families. We are committed to ensuring Autism East Midlands remains a key source of help and advice for people of all ages on the autism spectrum.”
Detective constable Jason Jenkins, from Nottinghamshire Police, said: “During her time with the charity, Dawn Franklin held a significant position of trust and responsibility and it is absolutely abhorrent that she decided to abuse this for her own gain. No charity should be faced with this.
“Her actions had a huge effect on the charity, colleagues and people that they worked with, and it is really positive to see that the courts have recognised this and served her with a custodial sentence, which we hope will give her the opportunity to reflect on her actions.”
Jenkins proceeded to urge anyone who suspected someone of committing fraud to get in touch with the police.