A pair of council workers who cooked up a ghost worker scam to con £40,000 out of a council and cancer charity have been convicted of money-laundering and fraud.
Qualified solicitor, Kalvinder Garcha, who worked as head of corporate resources at Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, and Lynn Middleton an advisor and administrator in the council’s HR department, used their positions to set up fake profile as an employee of the authority for Middleton’s sister, Sharon Reeve.
Reeve, who lives in Spain and is married to a wealthy businessman, was then given a wage by the council for two years totalling £38,902, even though she wasn’t actually doing any work.
Garcha and Middleton were also members of the board at the Coping with Cancer and decided to pull a similar scam on the charity too, by setting Reeve up as a fake “consultant” for the charity, for which she was paid £3,675.
Reeve didn’t keep any of the money herself and it was all passed to Middleton, who then gave Garcha a share of their ill-gotten gains.
(Image: Alex Hannam)
Leicester Crown Court had previously heard both Garcha, 50, from Carisbrooke Road, Leicester and Middleton, 49, of Arbor Road, Croft, told colleagues Reeve was a home worker to explain her absence and carried out extra work themselves in a bid to cover up their scam.
Middleton also told the court that the borough council was restructured in 2012, with redundancies in the department, which left her with an overwhelming workload, that Garcha also helped with – for which they were not paid.
She said Garcha asked her to find someone to help out in a “low key” way, because those made redundant might take action against the council if a new recruit was known to have been employed.
(Image: Alex Hannam)
Middleton said Garcha then met her sister when dropping her off at Reeve’s rented holiday lodge in Foxton Locks in July 2012.
The court was told Garcha then suggested using Reeve as a ghost worker as payback for the unpaid overtime Middleton had worked.
Middleton said her sister had gone along with the scam as a way of ‘helping her out’ because she was working part time and needed money for her children’s nursery fees.
(Image: Alex Hannam)
Garcha was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and two counts of money laundering after a trial at Leicester Crown Court.
Middleton pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering and two counts of fraud at an earlier hearing.
Reeve pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to money launder two weeks into the trial.
They are due to be sentenced on October 1.
Following the case, DS Matt Swift of Leicestershire Police, said: “This has been a lengthy and complex investigation spanning more than four years.
“We are pleased that this case has now, after many years, come to a successful conclusion and we’d like to thank Oadby & Wigston Council and Coping with Cancer for their support and co-operation throughout the last few years.
“Middleton did the right thing earlier in the legal process and admitted her involvement in these offences and also agreed to assist the prosecution.
“We hope this outcome reassures organisations who are there to serve our communities that we will pursue any reports of wrongdoing, no matter where they happen or by whom.”
Bill Richmond, Chairman of Sue Young Cancer Support, the new name for Coping with Cancer, said: “We are grateful for today’s guilty verdict which draws a line in the sand after a very difficult time for the Charity while the police investigation was underway.
“We have supported cancer patients and their families across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland for 40 years during what is often the most difficult time of their lives and will continue to do so.
“We thank Leicestershire Police for their diligence and persistence in bringing these three individuals to justice. We now look forward to moving on to doing what we do best; providing vital services to ensure that the people who need us get the very best help that they fully deserve.”
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