A council worker has been jailed for 18 months after he siphoned off £80,000 in public money to himself and friends.
Ex-serviceman Matthew Ravey, 28, abused his position of trust as a business rates officer at Rochdale Council when he made 26 fraudulent transfers between January 2015 and June 2016.
His scam came to light when a colleague noticed Ravey had applied a period of empty property relief totalling £4,208 to a company which had actually dissolved in 2014.
Among the transfers identified were two payments totalling £3,274 to Jason Hurst, 48, who later admitted spending the cash on cocaine and prostitutes, while just under £15,000 was sent to another friend, NHS worker Michael Frames, 28, who also had a cocaine habit, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
It emerged from analysis of Ravey’s work computer that he also created false insolvency documents for himself and friends while working at the council in an attempt to avoid reimbursing payday loans.
He used his work e-mail account to tell one friend: ‘I have used it on three loans I had in the past. Two have been written off completely…BOOM xx.’
Father-of-two Ravey, of Weir Road, Rochdale, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one count of theft and three counts of fraud.
He joined Rochdale Council in October 2013 after he three years of ‘unblemished’ service with the Royal Navy before 2012.
Sentencing him on Wednesday, Judge Bernard Lever said: ‘You have lost your good character and you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.’
He labelled the insolvency fraud as ‘devious and cunning’ and noted there was ‘a slight element of high living’ from his criminal gains including a degree of spending on clothes.
Hurst, of Chorley Old Road, Bolton, was sentenced at a previous hearing to complete 100 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to one count of theft, said Greater Manchester Police.
Frames, of Hurstead Road, Milnrow, admitted one count of money laundering and was also told to perform 100 hours of unpaid work.
Following sentencing, Detective Constable Sarah Langley said: ‘It’s clear from correspondence that Ravey imagined himself as some sort of criminal mastermind who had concocted a fool-proof plan to get rich while avoiding his debtors.
‘But, frankly, the decision to use his employer’s email address to orchestrate it was one of many frankly bizarre factors in his ill-considered scam.
‘After being confronted he even tried to deny he’d done anything wrong despite the paper chain from his computer clearly implicating him and his co-conspirators in his desperately flawed con job.
‘Let’s not forget this was public money. Everyone, not least taxpayers in Rochdale, should be disgusted by his actions.’