Volunteer who stole £62k from children's charity jailed

The treasurer of a children's book charity has been jailed for a year for embezzling more than £62,000 to fund a gambling addiction.
Glasgow Sheriff Court. Picture: John DevlinGlasgow Sheriff Court. Picture: John Devlin
Glasgow Sheriff Court. Picture: John Devlin

Karen McCormack, 49, took money from Bookbug on 65 different occasions during a 14-month period when she was in charge of the account.

She was caught when another volunteer paid a cheque into the account and noticed discrepancies.

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The colleague confronted McCormack, who confessed “I took the money”. At the time the charity was unsure if they would be able to continue past March this year, but have since secured funding.

McCormack from Rutherglen in South Lanarkshire pled guilty yesterday to embezzling £62,250 between April 2016 and June last year.

The crime was branded “shameful” by the Sheriff Johanna Johnston, who jailed McCormack for 12 months.

She said: “It’s a very unfortunate crime. You know that yourself because you were taking from a charity that’s doing good work.”

The court heard McCormack was employed by Glasgow City Council inspecting nurseries and volunteered with the South Glasgow Childcare Partnership Forum (SGCPF), which runs Bookbug, as treasurer. The charity provides free books to children to encourage families to read together.

Procurator fiscal depute Deborah Carroll said: “The embezzlement had a significant impact on the finances of the charity.

“At the time of the reporting it was unclear whether the charity had the finances to continue.

“They had enough money to continue until March. They have been able to secure funding, so it can continue.”

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Another Bookbug volunteer paid a cheque into the bank and requested a statement on June 23 last year. She noticed a series of discrepancies, with large number of payments having been withdrawn by the accused for events that had not happened. Miss Carroll said she confronted McCormack and said “please don’t tell me this is what I think it is”.

McCormack confessed and said “I’m so sorry”.

She explained she was using it for online gambling and didn’t know how to tell Miss Carroll. The charity account showed 65 transactions when money had been transferred to McCormack’s account and used for gambling. It was heard there had been no repayment yet.

Defence lawyer Neil Kilcoyne said of McCormack: “She had taken further sums in the hope she would win so that she could repay, but obviously that didn’t occur.”