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Senior officers - including solicitor - behind ‘phantom employee’ fraud at council and cancer charity given confiscation orders

Two former senior officers at Oadby and Wigston Borough Council convicted of fraud against the local authority and a cancer charity have been issued with Proceeds of Crime Act orders.

Between June 2012 and April 2015, Kalvinder Garcha and Lynn Middleton, were involved in defrauding the council and Coping with Cancer in Leicestershire and Rutland, out of more than £40,000.

Garcha, 50, of Carisbrooke Road, Leicester, was Head of Corporate Resources at Oadby & Wigston and a solicitor. She used her position to help her colleague Middleton, 50, of Arbor Road, Croft, create a ‘phantom’ employee.

Middleton was Head of Human Resources at the council when these offences occurred. Both Garcha and Middleton were also board members at Coping with Cancer.

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They were both convicted for their part in the offences along with a third woman, Sharon Reeve, aged 51, formerly of Olympic Close, Glenfield, who acted as the ‘phantom’ employee.

In October 2021 Garcha was sentenced to two years and six months in prison, Middleton was sentenced to one year and six months in prison and Reeve was given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.

Last week Garcha was issued with a confiscation order to the value of £7,880.

At a previous hearing Middleton was issued with a POCA order of more than £53,000. She was also ordered to pay compensation to the council of more than £35,000 and the cancer charity just over £4,000. She was given three months to pay the money or face a further eight months in prison.

Detective Sergeant Matt Swift, the investigating officer at Leicestershire Police, said: “Our efforts to stop criminal activity doesn’t just stop at conviction. The police have the powers to apply to the court to confiscate property or assets believed to be accrued as a result of the defendant’s criminality.

“We are pleased that the court have agreed to grant the confiscation order and if Middleton and Garcha fail to pay the value of the order they may face a further custodial sentence.

“We will continue to use this legislation and ensure those who choose to take the path of criminality should not be allowed to benefit from their crimes.”

Cllr John Boyce, Leader of Oadby & Wigston Borough Council, said: “We always felt it was important to first achieve justice in this case, and then to pursue the money lost as a result of this sophisticated fraud.

“The borough council – alongside the former named Coping with Cancer charity – were victims in this case and we’ve fought for a long time to get to this point.

“These are large sums of money that we can now reinvest into the many key services our borough council offers and I hope the way we have pursued this case and clawed back the money stolen sends a strong message.”

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