A 44-year-old secretary who embezzled £55,000 from a Ninewells Hospital charity fund has been jailed for 16 months.
Lorraine Warden committed the fraud against Tayside Otolaryngology Fund over a five-year-period after falling behind on payday loan repayments.
Warden, who was sacked by Dundee University after the allegations came to light, forged signatures and cashed 62 fraudulent cheques.
Her deception was only uncoveredafter the fund’s trustee noticed a number of suspicious transactions.
At the time, Warden was employed as a secretary on ward 26, and assisted with the management of the fund and occasionally carried out administrative duties forStephen Jones and Robin Blair, the fund’s then and previous trustees.
In October 2012, Mr Jones founddiscrepancies totalling £17,000 and spoke to Warden, who said she would update missing information.
A few months later Mr Jones noticed a number of stubs on a fund chequebook were blank. The bank confirmed three cheques totalling £3,792 had been cashed to Warden.
Further investigation by the police revealed a large number of cheques had been made out to Warden, with one also being made out to her daughter.
Mr Jones and Mr Blair confirmed none of the signatures on the cheques was theirs.
Ross Donnelly, defending, said: “She was using payday loans to cover thehousehold finances and it got to the stage where the amount she had to pay each month was more than her whole salary. None of the money was for extravagance or a luxurious lifestyle simply for the loans and everyday bills. However, she is not in a position to pay any of it back.”
Warden, of Dalgetty Court, Muirhead, admitted embezzling £55,000 between January 2007 and August 2012 at ward 26, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.
Jailing Warden, Sheriff Elizabeth Munro said: “You were getting working tax credits at the same time there’s somethingblatant about this to claim tax credits while also stealing £55,000.”
She added:“This was a charity you stole from and there’s no question of them getting the money back.
“This is just such a serious crime to steal £55,000 from a charity that I can simply see no way of avoiding a custodial sentence.”