An admin manager who stole more than £500,000 (€597,520) from his firm to fund his gambling addiction and help an ailing football club was jailed for three years today.
Dean Fisher (aged 36) who was chairman of Croydon Athletic Football Club, embarked on an elaborate scheme to steal money from his employer TCS Media in a bid to keep his treasured club in business.
The father-of-four also blew more than £128,000 (€153,002) on gambling and spent about £140,000 (€167,346) on himself, Southwark Crown Court in central London heard.
Fisher, who once weighed more than 26 stone, also used his ill-gotten gains to pay privately for an £8,000 (€9,562) gastric bypass operation, getting time off work by telling colleagues he had cancer.
He lived a life of luxury during his 15-month fraud, buying himself a Range Rover and a Rolex watch, the court heard.
Judge John Price told him: “You tried to look big and you were prepared to steal from the company to do it.
“It didn’t all go to yourself. But you were trying to support a club which you had no right to steal to support.
“You were in a position of trust and you breached that for all the wrong reasons. You almost ruined the company.”
Fisher spent about £260,000 (€310,764) on paying the non-league club’s bills and players, the court heard.
Usha Shergill, for the prosecution, said that Fisher told colleagues he was off work for cancer treatment, but in reality he was at the races or, on one occasion, undergoing private surgery.
In a victim impact statement, Simon Parker, managing director of Bayswater-based media and advertising agency TCS, said the fraud “left me cold”.
He was shocked and upset when he found out his colleague and friend had been lying to him about having cancer, he said.
The firm was left “on its knees”, struggling to keep 35 staff in their jobs during the recession, when the £500,000 (€597,520) loss was discovered, he said.
“The pressure on me and my wife was immense,” Mr Parker said.
“The last six months have taken their toll on the company and me personally.”
Fisher forged a series of invoices in his job as TCS administration and production manager, which he had held for 15 years, telling bosses they were for orders of paper.
But instead he spent the money on his football club and himself.
Daniel Jones, in mitigation for Fisher, said: “He, in essence, suffered from a mental breakdown.
“The fraud spiralled out of control and continued in a way which he could no longer prevent.”
His wife and children lost their house and were left with nothing, the court heard.
Fisher, of Caterham, Surrey, must also pay back the full £525,825 (€628,276) after he admitted carrying out the fraud between May 1, 2008, and August 31 last year.