Peterborough manager sentenced for fraud worth nearly £17,000

A Peterborough manager who claimed wages for her boyfriend of roughly £17,000 for hours he had not actually worked has been sentenced/

Friday, 13th December 2019, 4:54 pm

Karen Mercer, 40, was employed by Professional Security and worked her way up to be in charge of staffing for Cambridgeshire and surrounding counties.

She was in a relationship with Lee Jeal, 41, of Harn Road, Hampton Centre, Peterborough, between 2016 and last year.

Jeal worked in security for a separate company yet occasionally assisted as a bouncer for Professional Security, with Mercer as area manager between June 2016 and October last year.

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Mercer, of Four Chimneys Crescent, Hampton Vale, Peterborough, was responsible for sending door supervisors to venues across East Anglia and then arranging their timesheets and payment.

On 28 September last year concerns were raised by the security manager for Greene King pubs that timesheets were not matching up with the bills requested by Mercer.

Timesheets submitted by Mercer also claimed Jeal was working as a bouncer at the Chequers pub in Hertfordshire – when in reality he had never done so.

Door staff at the pub confirmed they had never heard of Jeal, and the timesheets showed forged signatures for the door supervisor and pub manager.

Professional Security carried out an audit and identified Jeal had been paid from August 2017 for thousands of hours he had not actually worked.

Greene King were refunded the full amount they had been billed due to the fraudulent timesheets.

Professional Security confronted Mercer, who admitted the fraud, and a disciplinary hearing was arranged for 8 October last year. Mercer failed to attend and was sacked for gross misconduct in her absence.

In police interview Mercer confessed to the offence, blaming money problems and that work had treated her “badly.”

She showed remorse and told officers her previous partner had left her with a huge debt she could not pay off.

In Jeal’s police interview he said Mercer approached him with the idea and admitted he had agreed to go with it.

He said the money was paid into his account and he then gave half of the cash to Mercer.

Jeal admitted he had never worked at the Chequers pub but had worked “genuinely” across the counties.

He said he told Mercer what they were doing was wrong “several times” and that it had to stop.

Mercer pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at a previous hearing, and Jeal admitted acquiring criminal property.

PC Adrian Anderson, who investigated, said: “Mercer had absolutely no consideration for others as she defrauded her own employer and pocketed the cash for herself and her partner.

“Her actions caused the company a lot of distress and financial difficulties. They may lose one of their biggest contracts as a consequence.

“Jeal went along with the lie and I hope they will now reflect on the effect they had on the people around them and the business they both worked for.”

The pair were sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court yesterday (12 December).

Mercer was handed 14 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Jeal was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.