A man carried out a £23,000 fraud against the Salvation Army in a bid to escape huge drug debts.
Leeds Crown Court heard Aaron Vertigan stole cheques belonging to the Christian charitable organisation and forged officers’ names before cashing them.
The court heard Vertigan’s father is a senior member of the Salvation Army and he confessed his offending to his parents before he was caught.
Carmel Pearson, prosecuting, said Vertigan’s parents acted quickly and managed to stop some of the cheques from clearing. The actual loss to the organisation was limited to £12,620. A judge gave Vertigan a suspended prison sentence after hearing how the 22-year-old was ashamed and wanted to carry out voluntary work for the organisation to make up for what he had done.
The court heard the Salvation Army had been refunded by the bank and Vertigan had promised to make a donation to the organisation.
Vertigan, of Ashburn Way, Spofforth, near Wetherby,admitted four offences of fraud. The court heard he had a £30,000 drug debt and wanted to get away from dealers.”
Ken Green, mitigating, said: “He fully understands and wants to be punished for his behaviour but in my submission, society would better served with a suspended period of imprisonment.”
Judge Christopher Batty gave Vertigan an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to do 250 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £2,000 compensation to the Salvation Army.
The judge said: “Your mum and dad are held in the highest regard by the Salvation Army.
“We can’t even begin to imagine how they must have felt when you abused their trust to this extent.”