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West Bridgford
Thursday, 15 April 2021

Former council finance officer jailed for stealing over £60,000 to pay off credit card debts

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An council finance officer stole more than £60,000 from her former employer to help pay off her accumulated credit card debts.

Kerry Wheatley was employed as a revenue finance officer for business rates for Bassetlaw District Council.

Over a 12-month period, between October 2018 and October 2019, Wheatley diverted refunds of business rates, due to be paid to a number of businesses, into a single bank account.

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Wheatley, who worked for the council for around 28 years, made 21 refunds from a council account totalling £60,745.44.

The fraud was discovered when Wheatley’s address came up on the record of a refunded rate payer while Wheatley’s manager was reviewing the control reports.

Wheatley, 53, of Hillside, Whitwell, Worksop, went on to admit the fraud.

She told her managers that she had taken the money to pay off credit card bills that had built up.

She was suspended and the police were informed.

After an internal investigation, Wheatley was dismissed from her position with the council.

Wheatley was subsequently charged with fraud by abuse of position.

She pleaded guilty and was today sentenced to 12 months in prison when she appeared at Nottingham Crown Court for sentencing on Monday (15 March 2021).

Police Constable Dan Weaver, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “This was a detailed investigation which involved looking at a variety of evidence and different sources.

“Wheatley made an early admission, the evidence against her was overwhelming.

“She was a trusted long-serving council employee but she abused her position by manipulating the system for her own gain and committing fraud.

“I hope this case sends a clear message to those who believe they can abuse their position for their own financial gain that offences will be uncovered and you will be brought before the courts to answer to your crimes.”

Neil Taylor, Chief Executive of Bassetlaw District Council, said: “This was an act of fraud involving public money and is a regrettable abuse of a position of trust within this authority.

“This criminal act was uncovered by council staff and referred to the police as soon as it had been discovered in line with the council’s anti-fraud strategy. The employee was dismissed for gross misconduct and did not appeal this decision.

“Bassetlaw takes a hard line on all fraud cases and the fact that this was one of the council’s employees stealing public money is devastating for the organisation.

“I hope this sentencing reassures the public that fraud will be discovered, the council will take the firmest action and that the authority will stringently protect the public purse.”