JAILED: Former Birmingham and Wolverhampton dogs home boss defrauded charity after blowing £640k on gambling site
The crooked ex-boss of Birmingham Dogs Home has been jailed for five years after he blew £640,024 of the charity’s money on an online gambling website.
Simon Price, 53, admitted cheating the charity, which runs Sunnyside Kennels in Coven, near Wolverhampton, in an fraud totalling £894,753 with his wife Alayna, 39.
Price, who admitted 10 offences, and his former partner, who pleaded guilty to five, took money over four years from 2012.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how they funnelled cash into their personal accounts, leaving the charity ‘weakened’.
In his role as the charity’s chief executive, the gambling addict diverted cash from legacies left to the dogs home, including the sale of a £399,000 house.
He calculated to police that he had spent the money through his account on the Betfair website from 2009.
Judge Patrick Thomas QC, who jailed him for five years, told him that his actions had weakened public confidence in the work of the dogs home, damaging its ability to raise the £1.85 million needed each year to keep its doors open.
The court heard none of the money he stole had been repaid and it was unlikely to be recovered.
Mother-of-one Alayna, who is seven months pregnant, was spared jail as the judge imposed a two-year suspended term on her.
As commercial manager of the charity, she funnelled five legacy payments, including one for £150,000, into her personal Lloyds account, blowing the cash paying off credit cards, a loan, and the couple’s wedding in 2016.
In all, she diverted £254,729, but the judge was told she made repayments – one almost immediately after taking the cash – meaning £123,000 was left outstanding.
Judge Thomas told her the ‘dominating figure’ of her husband may have led her to the idea initially, but that she did it for her ‘own purposes’.
“You were undoubtedly in a position of trust, otherwise you would not have been able to do it. You abused that position of trust in order to steal money,” he said.
He added: “You are sole carer (to a child) and you are pregnant with another child, due in February.”
In a statement read to the court, charity chairman John Wheatley said the ‘serious breach of trust’ had left the staff feeling ‘very badly let down’.
The couple, of Somerton Drive, Marston Green, Solihull have since separated.
Detective Constable Arron Cox from the Economic Crime Unit said the pair’s home in Marston Green, plus another property they owned and rented out in Wheelwright Road, Erdington, had been seized by West Midlands Police.
He added: “We have control of those properties and will be looking to seize them under the Proceeds of Crime Act and sell them…with the profit being handed back to the Dogs Home.
“We will also be looking to take whatever other assets or cash the couple has that we can show was accrued through this fraud and again refunding the charity.
"We will do all we can to ensure as much money is paid back as possible.
“This fraud was motivated by pure greed: between them they took home handsome salaries but still felt the need to steal from the charity.
"And of course they were taking money that had been donated by generous people in the West Midlands and beyond − money that was earmarked for animal care but instead was splashed on gambling and a lavish lifestyle."