Former councillor pleads guilty to defrauding local charity

Alan Salter, 66, of Wallington in Surrey, once a Liberal Democrat councillor in Sutton, admitted stealing £8,225 from the Carshalton Association for the Elderly

Alan Salter
Alan Salter

A former Liberal Democrat councillor has admitted defrauding a meals on wheels charity for which he was treasurer.

Alan Salter, 66, of Wallington in Surrey, pleaded guilty last week at Croydon Magistrate’s Court to stealing £8,225 from the Carshalton Association for the Elderly using forged cheques.

The Charity Commission said it had opened a case into the charity, which provides meals and social activities for the elderly, after the conviction.

According to police, Salter signed a total of 26 cheques made out either to himself or allowing him to withdraw cash between 21 July 2015 and 7 May 2016, and forged the signatures of the two other charity officers who were needed to co-sign the transaction.

The fraud was uncovered when one of the charity’s senior officers noticed the withdrawals when preparing its annual accounts in June.

Salter, who resigned his position as a councillor at Sutton Council in June after the fraud allegations were made, told police he had been living beyond his means and had taken the money to pay off his debts, according to a police statement.

The charity had an income of £23,600 in the year to March 2015 and spent £18,600, according to the commission website, although the full accounts for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years are not available.

Sutton Council gave the charity grant funding of £24,700 for the year to 31 March 2013, according to the last available accounts, down from grants of more than £48,000 in the preceding two years.

Salter was appointed to the charity’s board in a personal capacity, a council spokesman said.

Simon Wales, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat-controlled council, said: "Councillors must behave in a manner beyond reproach.

"We are extremely disappointed in his actions. Defrauding a charity that serves some of the most vulnerable people in our community of thousands of pounds is inexcusable, reprehensible and shameful."

The council had carried out an internal audit investigation and to date had not found any evidence Salter had siphoned off any council funds, the council spokesman said.

A commission spokesman said: "The Charity Commission is aware of the conviction of a trustee of the charity and has opened a case to examine whether there are any regulatory concerns."

A date for Salter’s sentencing has not yet been set.

Carshalton Association for the Elderly declined to comment.

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