UK Gambling Addict Jailed After Stealing £1.7 Million From Employer3 years ago
A 52 year-old woman from the UK has been handed a four year jail sentence after stealing £1.7 million ($2.2 million) from her employer over a five year period between 2011 and 2016.
Tracey Stephenson of Thetford worked as an account manager for Escec Ltd, who are based in Newmarket and specialize in refits for bars and restaurants, building their reputation for quality over a 50 year period. They have 13 staff and whilst successful, they remain a small to medium sized enterprise, commonly known as a SME.
Stephenson began her crime spree in 2011 where she began to write false cheques to herself and even wrote them out to her husband. She altered company records to hide her crimes knowing full well she was in the wrong, although I struggle to see how anyone could ever think this would be acceptable.
Eventually the company raised alarm after running into cash flow problems, launching a costly £40,000 forensic investigation of their accounts to try and discover why a seemingly successful business was suffering problems. Realizing the game was literally up, Stephenson eventually confessed to her husband, who informed her employer. She had no previous criminal record but her crimes were severe enough to warrant a custodial sentence.
This is not, however, a story of a terrible gambler who lost money hand over fist. During her crime spree, Stephenson had two massive wins, one of £1.5 million and another of £250,000. Instead of returning the money and owning up, her defense lawyer suggests this only served to encourage her further and the thefts became more regular, buying real estate with the winnings in Spain. Unfortunately for Stephenson, crime tends not to pay and she was caught.
As he handed down the lengthy jail sentence after Stephenson pleaded guilty to five counts of theft, Judge Jonathan Haworth was harsh in his criticism of her. He said:
The company spent £40,000 investigating your dishonesty and the owners took out an overdraft. You had gambling wins but rather than pay the company back, you bought three houses. You became dishonest to an extent rarely seen."
It is always terrible when the dishonesty of an employee or fraudster causes damage to others who through their enterprise and business capabilities are able to build or sustain a business in the modern world. This is not a gambling story, but a story of large scale fraud that rightly resulted in punishment for the assailant.
It is also possible that the “gambling addict” statement was an attempt to excuse the behaviour rather than a reflection of genuine addiction. This defence is often used in court and I feel detracts from what can be a serious and debilitating condition for those affected, rather than the desperate excuse of a criminal caught red-handed.
Thankfully Escec Ltd’s news page on their website suggests they have received six instructions for refits in June 2016. PokerTube wishes them ongoing success as their businesses recovers from these crimes.
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