Detectives have welcomed a seven-year jail term for shamed Age Concern South Tyneside boss John Briers after his £700k fraud.
The 57-year-old, of Woodstock Road, Gateshead, was found guilty of three counts of fraud by abuse of position.]
A trial at Newcastle Crown Court heard how Briers, while working for Age Concern South Tyneside, stole a total of £708,499 by using fake invoices and banking unauthorised bonus and pension payments.
After sentencing, Detective Constable Nicholas Moses, of Northumbria Police, said: "Over a long period of time, John Briers systematically defrauded the charity for whom he worked and has shown few signs of remorse since the offences were uncovered.
"Leading up to the trial and during it, he has consistently attempted to divert the blame for his actions – but justice has now been served.
"This sentence shows that this kind of crime will not be tolerated. He took money earmarked to look after some of the most vulnerable people in our society for his own, selfish gain.
"Now, his greed has got the better of him and he must live with the consequence of his actions.
"I would like to thank everybody who assisted with this long and difficult enquiry, and I hope this sentence can give the charity – the victims of this case – some comfort in the knowledge that John Briers will now spend a substantial spell behind bars."
Northumbria Police said officers were alerted to Briers’ crimes in August 2015 after a financial manager at the charity noticed a supporting document for one of the payments appeared to be fraudulent.
Money was stolen from two parts of the organisation – one being the charity, for which Briers was chief executive, and the other being the trading company, for which he was the secretary.
In total, he made away with £433,236 through more than 60 fraudulent cheques which he asserted were for suppliers. Briers also paid himself £104,560 in bonuses, which included an additional monthly salary payment of nearly £6,000. Almost £170,000 of the charity’s money was also used by Briers to top-up his pension.
Templates of blank invoices for companies which the organisation had dealt with were uncovered when officers searched Briers’ office.
After being arrested by police, Briers made no comment during interview.
Detective Sergeant Dave Henderson, of Northumbria Police, said: "John Briers has been found guilty after trial for offences relating to the fraud he committed while abusing the trust of his employers at Age Concern South Tyneside.
"He chose to commit these offences by trying to cover his tracks, using false documents and therefore gaining more than £700,000.
"This amount of money is a substantial amount for a charity trying to help those most vulnerable in our society.
"This type of criminal behaviour will always be investigated and pursued. He has rightly been brought to justice for those actions.
"Police would like to thank all those at the charity for their support during what has been a long ongoing investigation and subsequent trial."