A fraudulent former professional footballer inflated his own salary and falsified invoices – contributing to the loss of up to 90 jobs, a court heard.
Andrew Mitchell, aged 39, of Kiveton Lane, Todwick, near Sheffield, was told by Judge Simon Lawler QC he ‘abused his position’ while managing director of Roebuck & Clarke Galvanising Ltd.
Sheffield Crown Court was told the firm, based on Meadow Bank Road, Kimberworth, Rotherham, went out of business partly because of the fraud with the loss of between 70 and 90 jobs,
Mitchell falsified invoices to boost his £40,000 salary by £114,000 in bonus payments over three years, said Ian Goldsack, prosecuting.
The firm tried to continue under a new name but was wound up and put into liquidation in January 2012.
Former footballer Mitchell made two professional appearances for Chesterfield after coming through the youth ranks with Aston Villa.
He pleaded guilty to 11 charges of false accounting and five charges of fraud from November 2009 to February 2011 and was given a suspended two-year jail term and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.
Nigel Power QC, defending, said: “This is a man of previous good character who has continued to provide for his family and two children despite being on bail for a considerable amount of time.
“He used £120,000 of his own money, all be it borrowed from his mother-in-law, to invest in shares to try and help the cash flow problems of the business.
“It’s worthy to note that the companies that were included in the falsified invoices represent a fraction of the total customer base for RCGL.”
Judge Simon Lawler QC told Mitchell: “This remains a serious case of a breach of trust involving substantial amounts of money.
“I asked myself what would a prison sentence actually gain? In my view it is not necessary to impose a prison sentence.
“There is no doubt that you abused your position of trust whilst at Roebuck and Clarke to benefit financially in the region of tens of thousands of pounds.
“There are many people who have been left disappointed by your actions, notably the companies you falsified invoices to.”
Det Con Steven Strecker, who led the investigation, said: “I am pleased Mitchell accepted responsibility for his crimes. His actions had a significant impact on the company, which ultimately suffered financial collapse leading to the loss of 90 jobs.”
Police are now pursuing further action under the Proceeds of Crime Act.