BREAKING: Pair Get 7.5 Years Jail for Roofing Fraud Bribes

AN EX-COUNCIL worker and a roofing firm worker are beginning their jail sentences for fraud and bribery after they conspired to swindle New Forest District Council and its taxpayers.

Former New Forest District Council maintenance operative, Richard Cullen, aged 55 from Luton, took bribes from 34-year-old Mark Diaper, who worked at a Southampton roofing company, which is no longer trading.

Diaper’s bribes were paid over to the council worker to secure a total of 118 contracts which were invoiced at over the odds. The amount overcharged is estimated at more than £88,000.

Council worker, Cullen took a 10% cut on the maintenance jobs he gave to the roofing firm.

Jobs over £15,000 had to go out to tender and so Cullen sometimes asked Diaper to split a quote into two so it did not look so big. He also encouraged him to add expensive elements like scaffolding to invoices to push up profits.

In January 2019, councillors noticed that a large amount of money had been paid to the roofing company, Alltype Roofing, owned by Stephen Leggett. They questioned why expenditure authorised by Cullen had increased by 146%. Soon after, Cullen was found asleep at his desk but still continued giving the contracts to Diaper until he was suspended.

After Cullen was eventually dismissed, he told his accomplice he would pretend to be mentally ill when his crimes came to light.

Bribery Investigations

During investigations, messages between the men were uncovered as part of the case. These showed Cullen kept Diaper informed of jobs, with Diaper responding ‘my man keep them coming bud let’s get the money in the bank’.

In September 2018, Cullen asked how much ‘roofing dollar’ he was likely to have coming his way.

By February 2019 it was beginning to occur to the men that their crimes might come to light. Cullen messaged Diaper: “Gonna wipe my phone tonight got a program that overwrites so nothing can be recovered…I’ll pop over & do yours if you like?”

Pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position and bribery at Southampton Crown Court, Richard Cullen of Francis Street, Luton was jailed for 58 months imprisonment. Mark Diaper of International Way, Southampton was given 32 months in prison.

According to the judge, in total, Cullen made £37,000 in bribes, whilst Diaper received £125,000 from the £233,000 worth of fraudulent contracts that were issued.

CPS Unit Head Kevin Hansford, said: “This scam defrauded the council – and by default hard working taxpayers – out of a large amount of public money.

“As an employee, Cullen was expected to safeguard the financial interests of the council, instead he abused that trust.

“The money should have benefited the community and gone towards local services but instead, it went into the pockets of individuals who were dishonestly manipulating the system.”

The Chief Executive of New Forest District Council has denied that the council were negligent in continuing to allow Richard Cullen to issue roofing work contracts after he had been caught asleep at his desk.

Judge Peter Henry, expressed surprise that the council had hired Cullen despite his history of dishonesty convictions. Council head, Kate Ryan said New Forest District Council has “stringent processes and protocols in place to prevent such occurrences.”

Following the sentence, Kate Ryan added: “We routinely review our anti-fraud processes to ensure they are robust, and we have a thorough candidate vetting process for recruitment, staff training and information, and ways for people to report any suspicions.

“As Chief Executive, it is both disheartening and unacceptable that such actions have taken place within our organisation.

Now the criminal case has concluded New Forest District Council is expected to review what happened and produce a full report for its audit committee.

>> Read about more court cases in the news

The post BREAKING: Pair Get 7.5 Years Jail for Roofing Fraud Bribes appeared first on Roofing Today.

Generated by Feedzy