Lawyer twisted into ‘ghost worker’ taxpayer scam to pay compensation
A solicitor involved in a fiddling to dupe his council employers and a cancer charity has been ordered to repay some of the money. Kalvinder Garcha, 50, was previously a senior solicitor at Oadby and Wigston Borough Council.
She was jailed last October for two years and six months, after being convicted by a jury for her role in a ‘ghost work’ scam of over £40,000. A council salary was paid to a non-existent employee.
Now she has been hauled back into court to try to recover the money taken from the taxpayer through the trick.
READ MORE: Jail for ‘arrogant and manipulative’ lawyer who stole £40,000 from cancer charity and council
At Leicester Crown Court on Friday June 10, Garcha was back before sentencing judge Ebrahim Mooncey for a forfeiture hearing. The defendant, formerly of Carisbrooke Road, South Knighton, who is still a prisoner, was ordered to repay the council £7,000 plus interest (£7,880) which she benefited from in the fraud, carried out between 2012 and 2015.
Garcha has been told she faces an additional five months in prison if she fails to pay. The court heard she had enough equity in a property to cover the sum.
At an earlier proceeds of crime hearing in April, co-accused Lynn Middleton of Arbor Road, Croft – who benefited most from the dishonesty – was ordered by the same court to pay back £35,047 to borough council, where she previously worked in the human resources department, plus £4,123 to the charity Coping with Cancer, now called Sue Young Cancer Support.
In October, Middleton, 50, was jailed for 18 months, after admitting his involvement in the two frauds. Her sister, Sharon Reeve, 52, who was the ‘ghost employee’ living in Spain at the time, agreed that she was voluntarily allowing her identity and bank account to be used in both scams.
Already wealthy, Reeve received no financial gain, handing over all profits to Middleton – who in turn gave around £7,000 to Garcha. In October, Reeve was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for 10 months, with unpaid work and will not be subject to any forfeiture proceedings.
Prosecutor Paul Prior said today (June 10) that money confiscated from Garcha would be used to directly compensate the borough council. Judge Mooncey said that although Middleton got the “lion’s share” of the proceeds, because she “needed the money”, Garcha “didn’t really need it” and was on “a stroke of luck”. ego foot about power structures”.
Middleton and Garcha were both board members of the cancer charity, but only Middleton benefited from the scam – which involved demanding payments for non-existent consultancy work.
Afterwards, the investigator, Detective Sergeant Matt Swift, said: “Our efforts to stop criminal activity don’t just stop at conviction. The police have the power to ask the court to confiscate any property or assets that may have accrued as a result of the criminality of the accused.
“We are pleased that the court has agreed to grant the forfeiture order and if Middleton and Garcha do not pay, they risk a further custodial sentence. We will continue to use this legislation and ensure that those who choose to engage in crime are not allowed to profit from their crimes.
Councilor John Boyce, leader of Oadby & Wigston Borough Council, said: ‘We have always felt it was important to get justice in this case first and then pursue the money lost to the following this sophisticated fraud. The borough council – alongside the former charity Coping with Cancer – have been victims in this case and we have fought for a long time to get to this point.
“These are significant sums that we can now reinvest in the many key services offered by our borough council and I hope the way we have pursued this case and recovered the stolen money sends a strong message.”