The previous owner of a Harrogate social care business has been sentenced at York Crown Court for defrauding his clients following an investigation by Veritau on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council.
The fraud investigation revealed that James Poole (of Alexandra Road, Harrogate), the then owner of the Bluebird Care franchise in Harrogate, financially abused his clients while in a position of trust by taking £37k from their managed accounts to supplement his business.
Poole, who bought the franchise for Bluebird Care in 2010, admitted that in recent years the business had been failing. As a result he used clients’ funds to supplement his business by almost £37k right up to the point the discrepancies in the client’s accounts were raised.
A spokesperson for Bluebird Care in Harrogate said:
James Poole sold the business and franchise in October 2017 and is now no longer associated with it in any way.
As new owners, we have used our experience to make appropriate changes to take the business forward in the right way for both the business and our valued clients.
The money he had taken was paid by the County Council to the Bluebird Care clients via direct payments, which are meant to pay for their care. Mr Poole was responsible for managing these funds on behalf of his clients; however he took advantage of this position by using the money to pay into his business.
Once the discrepancies were brought to his attention Poole repaid the outstanding amount of £18,655 in full.
Poole pleaded guilty to all charges summonsed by North Yorkshire Police at York Magistrates Court in April and was sentenced at York Crown Court yesterday to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years, 180 hours of unpaid work and a victim surcharge.
County Councillor Gareth Dadd, Executive Member for Financial Auditing, said:
This is another good result in the fight on fraud and shows that ultimately dishonesty does not pay.
It is an example of how North Yorkshire County Council works in partnership with North Yorkshire Police to protect both public funds and vulnerable individuals.
We will leave no stone unturned in our quest and we send a very clear message to those tempted to put at risk our financial support to vulnerable people – we are chasing you!
We encourage anyone with any information on fraudulent activity to phone the fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org