Gay U.K. Man Jailed for Embezzling $250K to Pay Off His Wife
A British gay man who claims his wife was blackmailing him over his sexual orientation has been sent to jail for two years for stealing more than $250,000 from his employer, U.K. national tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail reports.
Christopher Brown, 55, used the stolen money to give to his former wife, Mandy Brown. He said it was to keep her from exposing to the world that he is gay and was living a secret life.
In 1997, Mandy Brown discovered that her husband was using gay phone sex hotlines. As a result, their marriage went downhill. She allegedly threatened to out her husband unless he paid her large sums of cash, which would be used to pay for their son’s private education, hotels, and a vacation to Florida. Mandy Brown, however, has denied all the allegations and was never charged with any crime.
Brown, who lived in the English county of Hampshire at the time, was a finance director for Dawsons, an upscale retailer of home entertainment systems in Bournemouth, England, when he managed to embezzle more than $250,000 from the company’s accounts before the fraud was finally uncovered. Auditors discovered that he had been embezzling the money only after an internal audit that was conducted while he was away on vacation.
When he was confronted about the money, Brown resigned, moved to France with his male partner and bought a bed and breakfast. Although he denied the four counts of theft, he was found guilty and has been sentenced to two years in jail. He will also have to pay $7,300 in court costs.
"You chose to siphon off cash from company business accounts to fund your own financial expenditure," Judge Recorder James Watson said. "I do take into account the pressures upon your life - your own sexuality - and the shame of being unable to admit to yourself your sexuality."
Brown divorced his wife in 2003 shortly before moving to France. He told the court that he had only borrowed the money and intended to repay more than $180,000 in a two-year period.
"He didn’t believe he was acting dishonestly; some of the stolen funds were repaid," Brown’s attorney, Brian Sharman, told the court. "It was a very unusual set of circumstances; he was a loyal and decent employee for years.’
Detective Constable Andrew Stuckes rejected the account. "Brown was a trusted employee who carried out a systematic series of thefts in order to satisfy his lavish spending," Stuckes said."Only the stability of Dawson’s helped it to weather the financial storm. Mr Brown had to be forced to return from abroad and has now, rightly, been held to account for his actions."