A FORMER Labour Councillor who stole over £25,000 from a local charity to feed his gambling habit has been ordered to repay the cash – but has avoided jail time.
Mike Harrison, aged 76 and of Ramsgate, Kent, made 77 fraudulent transactions between 1 August 2015 and 10 February 2020, while he was a trustee of the Newington Community Association.
The charity manages the Newington Community Centre in Ramsgate, which has been used as a food storage and distribution hub during the coronavirus pandemic. Its total income up to 31 March 2020 was £28,406.
Harrison, a former Labour Party councillor for Thanet District Council, admitted one charge of fraud by false representation at an earlier hearing in March.
At Canterbury Crown Court earlier this month, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
He was also told to attend 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days, pay costs of £340 to the Crown Prosecution Service and repay £24,957 to the charity.
The amount will be paid to the court within 12 months and then passed to the charity, while non-payment will result in enforcement action.
The charity said it became aware of the fraud in February 2020 and immediately reported it to Action Fraud, the Charity Commission and key stakeholders, as well as launching an urgent investigation and review of all procedures.