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Ex-footballers Mark Aizlewood and Paul Sugrue jailed for fraud

first_imgWilliams was also convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, and was sentenced to four years in prison, while Martin was sentenced to five years and three months. Football coach Jack Harper, 30, from Southport, Merseyside, was convicted of fraud and using a false instrument, and sentenced to 18 months in jail. He was acquitted of another count of conspiracy to commit false representation. Martin admitted two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation ahead of trial, along with Stephen Gooding, 53, from Bridgwater, Somerset, who admitted one charge. Gooding was sentenced to 20 months in jail.The company enrolled suitable apprentices to claim money from the colleges, which in turn received funding from the government-run Learning and Skills Council (LSC), later renamed the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). Gooding and Harper, who were employed in the business, helped funnel new learners into the scheme. Some of the bogus students were sourced from a summer football camp run by Harper, who secretly enrolled students on to apprenticeships without their knowledge or consent.LM Training even got sixth formers on work experience to come into its office to complete tests on behalf of learners to make it seem as if they had the minimum levels of maths and English competency. The work experience students were told they were just doing practice papers. When the scam unravelled, the SFA demanded its money back, leaving large deficits in the budgets of many schools.Aizlewood denied any wrongdoing during the trial, telling the jury he had been preoccupied by his late wife’s spiralling mental health problems before her suicide in June last year.He told the court he had neither the “time or inclination” to carry out such a complex fraud during the period. Share via Email Share on Facebook Read more Share on Messenger Two ex-footballers have been jailed for their part in a £5m sports leadership scam, which falsely claimed to help young people from deprived backgrounds gain football coaching apprenticeships.Former Wales international Mark Aizlewood, 58, was sentenced to six years in prison on Monday alongside fellow ex-pro Paul Sugrue, 56, who was jailed for seven years, for defrauding “eye-watering sums of government money”.Aizlewood and Sugrue were among a group of six men who promised to help young people not in employment, education or training, known as Neets, gain NVQs in activity leadership. The men claimed millions from further education colleges to provide full-time training in football coaching, work experience and a £95 weekly stipend to 3,800 students, many of whom did not exist or lived at the opposite side of the country from the scheme. When sentencing the six men, Judge David Tomlinson said: “There was a serious detrimental affect on colleges of further education.”He said it involved “eye watering sums of government money” under the pretext of helping disadvantaged people. “This was quite simply shameful exploitation,” he added.Earlier this month, Aizlewood was convicted of one count and Sugrue of two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation by offering the non-existent apprenticeships through their firm Luis Michael Training Ltd. Aizlewood and Sugrue, from Cardiff – along with fellow directors Keith Williams, 45, from Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, and Christopher Martin, 53, from Catmore, in West Berkshire – submitted false accounts to colleges to persuade them to do business with the firm. Share on Pinterest Share on Twitter … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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