Former officer jailed for stealing £216,000 from Christian charity

Lee Patterson, 51, pleaded guilty to taking the money from the Bramley Family Support Project, where he was a project manager

Lee Patterson
Lee Patterson

A man has been jailed for three years and four months for stealing £216,000 from a Christian charity.

Lee Patterson, who was a project manager at the Bramley Family Support Project in Leeds, even created a fake version of the annual report as part of his deceit.

Patterson, 51, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of fraud by abuse of position and two offences of fraud by false representation.

The charity, which employed about 20 staff when the offence came to light in 2012, has ceased operations.

The three trustees are considering whether to restart the charity now that Patterson, from Marsh, Huddersfield, has been sentenced.

Detective Constable Kate Hardaker of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Fraud Team said Patterson had abused his position of trust and authorised withdrawals and payments from charity bank accounts between 2008 and 2012.

Hardaker said: "These offences have 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.

"He manufactured his own version of the yearly charity financial reports to hide his offending.

"These were then produced to the board of trustees as legitimate audited financial reports, leading the trustees to believe that they provided a true financial record of the accounts."

Confiscation proceedings are due to begin in July to recover stolen funds.

A statement by the charity's three trustees said: "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."

David Sullivan, chair of the BFSP, told Third Sector it was Patterson's job to submit tenders to statutory organisations to provide services for children and families.

Sullivan said the charity became suspicious when its debit card was used to withdraw cash in Turkey.

He said the trustees were due to meet before the end of May to decide what to do next.

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.

"BFSP took appropriate action by reporting this as a serious incident to the commission and to the police."

 

 

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