Embezzlers Who Stole Big for Gambling Receive Very Different Punishments

Posted on: July 14, 2023, 08:40h. 

Last updated on: July 14, 2023, 10:02h.

If you’re going to embezzle funds from an employer in the UK, it might be better to do it in England, not Scotland. Two similar schemes fueled by a penchant for gambling resulted in two completely dissimilar punishments.

Gloucester Crown Court, Shire Hall, Longsmith Street, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom
The Gloucester Crown Court in Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom. A judge has saved a former bank manager who embezzled for his gambling addiction from jail. (Image: Alamy)

One case involved a former bank manager in England, while the other was a postal worker in Scotland. In both scenarios, the individuals had stolen massive amounts – at least £160,000 (US$209,680) – from their respective employers.

One walked away with a suspended sentence and no jail time. The other is going to prison for 28 months.

Bank Manager Gets Slap on the Wrist

BBC reports that a former bank manager with Lloyds will have to repay the money he stole, but won’t spend time behind bars. A Gloucester Crown Court judge found Ashley Chamberlain guilty of stealing £175,000 (US$229,337) from the bank for his gambling addiction.

Beginning in December 2017, the 34-year-old began swiping funds, continuing his embezzlement until June 2021. It wasn’t until an audit of the bank’s finances was conducted that anyone discovered there was a problem.

When bank officials approached Chamberlain, he admitted his deception. He would later explain that he had spent around £970,000 (US$1.27 million) gambling online and needed the money to keep his streak going.

While Chamberlain had some success, reportedly winning £570,000 (US$746,985), he was still in the hole. He repeatedly transferred money from the bank’s accounts to his own, then forwarded it to a separate account he maintained for gambling.

Chamberlain and his lawyer asked for leniency when he made his appearance in court. They explained that he has been receiving treatment for his addiction from Gamblers Anonymous and hadn’t gambled in over two years.

In addition, he is also repaying the money he stole. He’s trying to sell his house and took all the money from his pension plan to make restitution.

The judge accepted the arguments and gave him a two-year jail sentence that he then suspended for 18 months. At the same time, he ordered Chamberlain to complete 250 hours of community service and give Lloyds an additional £30,000 (US$39,315).

Postal Worker Heads To Jail

In Lerwick, Scotland, Jack Simpson wasn’t as lucky. The 29-year-old former postal clerk received his lengthy sentence for stealing £160,000 (US$209,680) from the postal service.

Simpson pulled off his heist in only six months, from January to August 2021. He was supposed to deliver cash he received to the main Post Office, but put the money in accounts controlled by him and a former partner.

That money then went to betting accounts at Betfred, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, and others, according to The Shetland Times. He reportedly had at least 25 betting accounts, through which he lost all of the money and more.

The sentence of 28 months could have been worse. Last year, a former Scottish member of parliament, Natalie McGarry, received two years for embezzling just £24,635 (US$32,635) from two groups for which she worked as their treasurer.

There’s obviously no law that says the countries of the UK must have similar laws. The sentences imposed on Chamberlain and Simpson show how different England and Scotland are.

A law firm in England, GMF Law, states on its website that embezzlement is a “common law” offense, which it says means the government has no standard penalty. However, for a person “charged with embezzlement in the Sheriff Court on summary complaint (before a Sheriff sitting without a jury), the maximum sentence which can be imposed is 12 months imprisonment or a fine of £10,000 (US$13,101).”

On the other hand, the Scottish law firm of Graham Walker shows a different approach in the country. It explains on its site, “Depending on whether your case is heard in the Sheriff Court or the High Court, you could face charges of 5 years or even more.”