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Ex-shopping centre bosses accused of £200,000 fraud

FRAUD ALLEGATION ... Juliet Coard and Michael Lawson leaving court.

FRAUD ALLEGATION ... Juliet Coard and Michael Lawson leaving court.

TWO former bosses at a North East shopping centre orchestrated a scam worth more than £200,000, a court heard.

Juliet Amanda Coard and Michael Lawson, who were both managers at the Galleries in Washington, appeared before Sunderland Magistrates’ Court yesterday facing a charge of fraud by abuse of position.

It is alleged the pair were behind a false contract crime worth £208,000 between October 2008 and July 2010.

The Crown Prosecution Service heard they awarded a maintenance contract at the centre to a company called Turfcraft, which they set up.

The pair were arrested after a three-year police investigation, and made their second appearance in court yesterday.

Step-siblings Coard, 49, of Front Street, Ireshopeburn, County Durham, and Lawson, 37, of West Street, Grange Villa, entered no pleas to the charges.

Magistrates said the case was too serious for them to deal with, and asked for it to be heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

Coard and Lawson, who no longer work at the Galleries, will appear at Newcastle Crown Court for a plea and directions hearing on March 3.

They were both released on bail until then.

A spokesman for the Galleries declined to comment.

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