Woman stole £12,000 from Leeds City Credit Union

Beverley Johnson.
Beverley Johnson.
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A credit union manager who stole £12,000 from customer accounts has avoided a jail sentence.

Beverley Johnson, 52, abused her position working for the Leeds City Credit Union (LCCU) over a two year period before her deception was uncovered.

Johnson, also known as Farmer, was told yesterday that her offences were aggravated by the fact the credit union was used by “vulnerable” members of the community.

The grandmother was yesterday handed a two-month prison sentence, suspended for one year, and ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to 16 counts of fraud. Leeds Crown Court heard Johnson’s offences took place between April 2007 and December 2008.

Paul Nicholson, prosecuting, said Johnson would transfer funds from customer accounts into credit union accounts held by family and friends.

She was then able to access those accounts and remove the transferred sums. Mr Nicholson said: “In addition to that there was money moved backwards and forwards between customers’ accounts. We believe it was an effort to conceal the amounts taken out.”

The prosecutor said LCCU did not have a strong system in place for detecting the offences. The matters came to light in early 2009 and Johnson was questioned by her bosses but continued to deny involvement.

Police were not informed until December 2010 and Johnson, of Rembrandt Avenue, Tingley, was arrested and interviewed on four occasions. She claimed someone else must have used her password but finally admitted the offences at a hearing last month. Jason MacAdam, mitigating, said the offences happened during a stressful period of her life when she was going through a divorce and was under financial pressure. He said: “It was motivated by need not greed.”

The barrister said Johnson had no previous convictions and was ashamed of what she had done.

The court heard she has now set up a dance group which offers classes to underprivileged children.

Sentencing Johnson, Recorder Morris said the union was “a mutual society for those who are at the more vulnerable end of out community”.

After the case, former Leeds MEP Michael McGowan, who stepped down as LCCU president in January after leading efforts to clean up LCCU, said: “We successfully rooted out members of senior management who abused their position of trust and almost destroyed the credit union.

“The credit union is now one of the most successful in the country and an example to the rest of the credit union movement in adopting zero tolerance to financial malpractice.”