Bosses at Sedge Estate Agents in Spalding have revealed their business has expanded despite accountant Richard Sullivan’s thefts that were discovered two years ago.
Market Deeping man Sullivan (45), who changed his surname by deed poll from Sullivan-Porteous, stole £240,000 while assisting with the financial affairs of Sedge Homes and its associated company Sedge Estate Agents.
This week Sullivan was jailed for three years by a judge at Lincoln Crown Court.
Directors of Sedge Estate Agents, who praised police for their handling of the case, say they are taking steps to recover money from Sullivan.
A statement from the directors says: “We can confirm that over a past period to 2012 monies have fraudulently been taken from Sedge Homes Ltd and related businesses.
“We would like to thank Lincolnshire Police for their assistance in the investigation and successful conviction in this case as we know this has been a large draw on their resources.
“We cannot comment further as we are now continuing with proceedings to track and recoup monies with the continued assistance of the relevant police bodies and separate civil case to ensure we can fully close the matter.
“All suppliers to Sedge have been fully paid throughout this period.
“Sedge Estate Agents continue to trade from strength to strength and we are delighted to have grown, regardless of recession and theft, to the business we have today.
“We continue to invest in Spalding and the local area – indeed this year we have launched Sedge Removals and Storage and continue to achieve our business plan.”
Speaking after Sullivan was sentenced, police detective sergeant Lance Morgan said: “Richard Sullivan was in a fortunate and privileged position in his private life but despite this he chose to masquerade as a wealthy and successful businessman, living a lavish lifestyle that was extravagant and beyond his means.
“He preyed on his unsuspecting clients and practised his criminal deception for a period of at least four years. In doing so he committed the ultimate betrayal, stealing over a quarter of a million pounds from his clients and close friends.”
Police say the Crown Prosecution Service estimate Sullivan could have stolen as much as £298,000 from numerous companies between 2008 and 2012.
Lincoln Crown Court heard Sullivan ran his own accountancy and taxation business while working for Sedge.
Mark Knowles, prosecuting, said Sullivan was paid a monthly fee for his duties which included paying suppliers, settling tax bills and producing end of year accounts.
But over four years he stole from the companies, syphoning off money into his own firm. He also failed to pay bills.
The thefts came to light in October 2012 after concern was raised about the number of final reminders the firm was receiving when it was having the most profitable time of its existence.
Checks revealed unauthorised payments were being made not only to Sullivan’s firm but also to other sources.
Mr Knowles said Sullivan was a long-standing friend of the boss of Sedge Homes and trusted to carry out the accountancy work.
Judge Michael Heath told Sullivan: “I can’t draw back from an immediate custodial sentence. This was a very serious breach of trust.”
Richard Fisher, defending, said Sullivan and his wife had suffered personal tragedy as a result of the death of their son which contributed to severe anxiety and stress.
He said: “The personal tragedies suffered by himself and his wife between 2006 and 2008 don’t justify the prolonged offending but it may provide some context as to why it occurred.”
Sullivan, of Millfield Road, had been involved with Deepings Rugby Club as a coach and also helped his local church, and Mr Fisher described him as “someone who had contributed to his local community in a positive way”.