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Thread: Gala embezzler gets more time to repay cash

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Gala embezzler gets more time to repay cash

    Accused still due Wick gala committee 8,700 Western Isles sheriff heard

    KAREN SPRUCE who cheated the Wick Town Improvements Association out of 22,000 while its treasurer, has paid back only 400 of the outstanding amount of 9,100.
    The poor repayment rate emerged when she appeared yesterday, at Stornoway Sheriff Court which heard a progress report on her restitution of the capital sum she embezzled.
    However, she was given extra time to make good the balance, by Sheriff David Sutherland after he heard that Spruce intended seeking work on the mainland to finance repayments.
    Spruce (56) of Mill Street, Stornoway, was placed on probation at Wick Sheriff Court, in June last year and was ordered to carry out 240 hours of community service for the embezzlement, which took place over three years, between April 2005 and June 2008.
    The WTIA collapsed from the resulting financial crisis and still has to pay Highland Council for community work undertaken by the authority.
    Spruce escaped jail after promising to pay back the money within 18 months. She maintained that she had not made any financial gain from the cash she embezzled, but never revealed what she had done with it. Police investigators found the WTIA had 19,000 in its account when Spruce took over as treasurer but only 200 remained after she was asked to step down, following an emergency meeting of the organisation.
    Her solicitor, Ken Macdonald told Sheriff Sutherland at Stornoway, yesterday, that the accused needed more time to clear the repayments. He said that Spruce was “very anxious” she might be jailed.
    Mr Macdonald made the point that his client was earning a wage when the original pay back arrangements were made but she was sacked from her job with the Western Isles Council after her dishonesty came to light. Spruce had moved to Stornoway following her appearance at Wick Sheriff Court.
    Mr Macdonald added: “It is her intention to try and repay the outstanding sum. She is prepared to seek work on the mainland as she cannot get work locally.”
    Spruce hit the headlines in March this year when it was revealed she was involved in fundraising events for island charities at the Lews Castle College in Stornoway. She featured in a national newspaper story which revealed she was president of the students union and had been undertaking events to donate funds to Western Isles causes. However, Spruce maintained she had admitted her dishonesty to the college at time of her appointment.
    The Wick Town Improvements Association was wound up, after the embezzlement was discovered, and a new body, Wick Gala Committee, was formed thanks to support from local businesses and residents who rallied round.
    Last edited by Nwicker60; 13-Oct-11 at 09:46.

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