British Paralegal Imprisoned for Stealing from Employer to Fund Gambling

Posted on: May 17, 2022, 05:41h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2022, 09:52h.

A 38-year-old father of two from the UK is leaving his children to go to prison. He siphoned over £438,000 (US$545,397) from the law firm where he worked as a paralegal to feed his gambling habit, and will now pay the price.

Manchester Crown Court
Manchester Crown Court in the UK. A father of two just received a prison sentence here for stealing from his employer to feed a gambling habit. (Image: MEN)

Paul Young had a steady job with the Berrymans Lace Mawer (BLM) law firm. Beginning in 2016, he worked as a paralegal at the British company, managing insurance claim payments for victims of traffic accidents. However, being that close to money apparently proved to be too tempting.

Instead of distributing the payments to the victims, Young began depositing the money into his own bank accounts. It took a few years for the firm to discover what was going on. But when it did, it wasted no time seeking justice. Young will now disappear for three years and three months, heading to jail to answer for his crimes, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Feeding a Gambling Habit

Young reportedly began piling up debts to loan sharks, the result of a failed side gig as a gambler. He fell into depression, according to his own court testimony, and needed a way out. Managing the law firm’s payment system, in his eyes, gave him the perfect solution.

He was in charge of authorizing payments through a claims management system, Blue Prism. It bypassed the need for an approval by the insurance company, giving Young almost autonomous control over payment distribution.

In 2018, Young redirected a £5,099 (US$6,359) payment to his own account. Although the firm discovered the error, his claim of it being a simple mistake allowed him to continue in his position with nothing more than a reprimand.

However, a year later, BLM realized that something was wrong when claimants began reporting that they never received their payments. The firm investigated and determined that Young had embezzled at least £32,000 (US$39,849).

That led to a more thorough investigation. By the time it was over in 2019, BLM discovered that he had stolen over £437,500 (US$545,168) over the course of his career. Some of that money, £185,000 (US$203,621), went to an associate. Logically, the company fired Young, launching a criminal case that led to the arrest of him and his associate.

Attempting to Make Amends

Young, at one point, attempted to repay some of the money to his employer. He sold property that allowed him to return £30,000 (US$37,374), only a small portion of what he stole.

When Young appeared in court, his lawyer attempted to use the sympathy card. He asserted that his client suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that he was no longer gambling and that he was receiving treatment for his gambling addiction.

That sympathy card was trumped by Judge Timothy Smith, who presided over the case. He rejected the claims, countering that Young had not suffered any “life-threatening event that’s a prerequisite” for a PTSD diagnosis.

The wayward paralegal wittingly took advantage of the flawed Blue Prism system, which didn’t require approval for payments. Prosecutors highlighted this during the trial, emphasizing that Young’s actions constituted an extreme dereliction of duty and violation of employer trust.

There were other compounding circumstances that exacerbated the final outcome for Young. During the trial, it was discovered that, prior to working at BLM, he worked for another law firm, Pro-Law. However, he neglected to mention this when applying for a job with BLM.

At Pro-Law, there exists the possibility that Young may have performed similar illicit actions. While prosecutors didn’t specify what had happened, they asserted that BLM would have likely never hired him if they knew about his time at Pro-Law, since a background check would have highlighted a possibly disturbing past.