Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Ex-soldier in Legion cash fraud walks free

A former soldier who confessed to swindling his British Legion club out of more than £13,000 has walked free from court.

Antrim Crown Court Judge Corinne Philpott told 49-year-old Michael Joseph Curtis she was suspending his 18-month sentence for two years because he had repaid the money and had admitted guilt from the outset.

The former soldier pleaded guilty to a total of seven charges of fraud and false accounting from May 2008 to December 2009 at the Portstewart branch of the Legion, where he was the treasurer.

Prosecutor Conor Maguire said that in February 2010, Curtis — from Convention Avenue in Portstewart — had confessed to the board of the Legion that he had cashed cheques totalling £13,509.

The chairman of the branch called in the police and, when interviewed, Curtis made full admissions and had also provided detectives with a written statement.

Curtis, who had a completely clear record, had made full restitution to the Legion since the offences came to light.

Defence lawyer Michael Smyth said Curtis, now a postman, had been treasurer of his local branch for three years.

With the help of his dad, Curtis had been able to repay the Legion, but was now in debt to him.

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