Former council employees jailed

Published: Friday, 1 October 2021

*Collaborative press release with Leicestershire Police*

Three women who conned a local council and a cancer charity out of thousands of pounds have been sentenced at court.

Between June 2012 and April 2015, Kalvinder Garcha, Sharon Reeve and a third woman, Lynn Middleton, were involved in defrauding Oadby and Wigston Borough Council and the charity, Coping with Cancer in Leicestershire and Rutland, out of more than £40,000.

Garcha, 50, of Carisbrooke Road, Leicester, was Head of Corporate Resources at the Council and used her position to help her colleague Middleton, 49, of Arbor Road, Croft, create a “phantom” employee.

Middleton was Head of Human Resources at the Council when these offences occurred. Both Garcha and Middleton were also board members at Coping with Cancer.

Middleton’s sister, Reeve was the “phantom” employee - an individual who existed but never worked for either organisation. Reeve, 50, formerly of Olympic Close, Glenfield, was paid for working for the Council for two years and the charity for seven weeks.

The salary Reeve received was then transferred to Middleton. Garcha was also given a cut of the council salary. Reeve didn’t actually keep any of the money for herself.

At a hearing in July 2019 Middleton pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and two counts of conspiracy to money launder.

More than two weeks into the trial Reeve pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to money launder.

In August this year, Garcha was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and two counts of money laundering after a trial at Leicester Crown Court.

Today (Friday 1 October) they were sentenced as follows:

  • Kalvinder Garcha was sentenced to two years and six months in prison
  • Lynn Middleton was sentenced to one year and six months in prison
  • Sharon Reeve was given a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.

Detective Sergeant Matt Swift from the force’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “This has been a lengthy and complex investigation spanning more than four years.

“Both Garcha and Middleton abused their positions within both organisations for their own financial gain, with no regard for the fact that they were not only conning a local authority but also a local cancer charity.

“We are pleased that this case has now, after many years, come to a successful conclusion and we’d like to thank Oadby & Wigston Council and Coping with Cancer for their support and co-operation throughout the last few years.

“Middleton did the right thing earlier in the legal process and admitted her involvement in these offences and also agreed to assist the prosecution.

“We hope this outcome reassures organisations who are there to serve our communities that we will pursue any reports of wrongdoing, no matter when they happen or by whom.”

Councillor John Boyce, Leader of Oadby & Wigston Borough Council, said: “We are pleased with the verdict and that justice has been served on these former employees who abused their positions for financial gain.

"We would like to thank Leicestershire Police and the CPS for their thorough and diligent investigation which has resulted in these convictions.

“I would also like to thank all of the staff involved in bringing this case to a resolution. Whilst I am relieved it’s over, it is with no sense of triumph only sadness - in a case like this many people’s lives and careers are affected.

“As victims of this sophisticated fraud – alongside the former named Coping with Cancer charity - we have always felt it was important to pursue justice on behalf of the borough and its people.”

Bill Richmond, Chairman of Sue Young Cancer Support, the new name for Coping with Cancer, said: “We are grateful that this case has now concluded and draws a line in the sand after a very difficult time for the Charity while the police investigation was underway.

“We have supported cancer patients and their families across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland for 40 years during what is often the most difficult time of their lives and will continue to do so. We thank Leicestershire Police for their diligence and persistence in bringing these three individuals to justice. We now look forward to moving on to doing what we do best; providing vital services to ensure that the people who need us get the very best help that they fully deserve.”