Scaffolder Gary Foley and wife defrauded bosses of Gloucestershire businessBeat The Cowboy Builder
A scaffolder who defrauded his bosses out of at least £30,000 has been jailed for 15 months for a “persistent” and “mean” fraud.
Gary Foley, 49, of Dormer Road, Cheltenham and his wife Lorraine, 46, both denied fraud and making up false invoices to cover the money they took between April 2011 and August 2012.
But they were found guilty at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday.
There was weeping in the public gallery as the couple were being sentenced yesterday.
Passing sentence, Judge William Hart told the pair: “It was a persistent fraud and rather a mean fraud. You were trusted.”
Foley’s wife Lorraine, a mother of two children, aged 12 and 17, avoided immediate jail for her part in the frauds against M&M Scaffolding Ltd.
She received a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecuting, Mark Hollier told the court that M&M owners Martin and Helen Stevens took on the Foleys to run their firm for more than a year before realising that payments from customers were going into Mrs Foley’s bank account.
Gary Foley had previously run Air Scaffolding Gloucestershire Ltd and Air Scaffolding Three Counties Ltd, which both were liquidated. He was in £20,000 of debt before he started working at M&M.
In 2012, Mrs Stevens became concerned that M&M was not doing as well as it should be and she found a company called Abacus Scaffolding, of which Mr Foley was the director.
When the Foleys were on holiday in America in August 2012, Mr Stevens found 19 invoices on a computer which had been sent to people he believed were M&M’s customers, but they had been sent from Abacus and Air Scaffolding and not his company.
Judge Hart added: “You abused your positions as manager and admin assistant with M&M and diverted payments from them and their accounts to your own use.
“The couple had adopted a very charitable approach to your position. They helped you with vehicle finance and with a loan which was never refunded.
“But within a few months you were diverting income from M&M jobs to your own or your wife’s account. The fraud continued for well over a year, bleeding M&M financially while benefiting yourselves.
The judge said he was able to avoid immediate jail for Mrs Foley because she had played a significantly lesser role in the offences . Although she had not initiated the offences she was, however, aware of what her husband was doing, he said,
Joe Maloney, defending, said Mrs Foley was of previous good character.
He handed the court character references for the couple and said that their friends and relatives were standing by them regardless of the convictions.
The case had been going on for a year and had taken a real toll on their lives, added Mr Maloney.
Foley now had another job and was highly thought of by his boss, who regarded him as his right-hand man, Mr Maloney said. “This case is a great shame. These are decent people who would do anything for anyone. “
Fraud comes in many guises.
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