Gambling Ex-Football Club Manager Faces Return to Jail for Stealing £36K

  • John Vickers stole on 287 occasions from Lincoln City FC's lottery and PayPal accounts
  • Served three months of a 14-month prison term, but faces a further nine months unless he repays the money
  • Had been gambling since his youth and was addicted when he began embezzling from his employers
  • Embezzlement an increasing problem for companies who employ people with secret gambling addictions
Businessman in handcuffs
John Vickers stole more than £36,000 over the course of 11 years, while in charge of the football club’s PayPal and lottery accounts.

Abuse of position

A football club manager has been told his jail sentence will increase unless he repays the more than £36,000 he stole to fund his gambling habit.

John Vickers, who was the general club manager for Lincoln City Football Club, went on trial for fraud by abuse of position in January. He pled guilty and was sent to prison for 14 months. In April he was released after serving just three months, benefiting from an early release scheme.

Yesterday, May 17, he attended court for a Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA) hearing that lasted only six minutes. Judge Simon Hirst told Vickers, 48, that he must repay the £36,212 ($46,054) he embezzled or return to jail for another nine months.

The court determined that Vicker’s assets are sufficient to repay the money to Lincoln City FC, known as the Imps. He has been given three months to comply. He had earlier repaid £3,225 ($4,102) to the Imps.

His defense lawyer told the court: “He recognizes and fully understands what he has done to the club that he loves. He acknowledges that. I ask you to take that apology he makes as genuine. ”

In a statement after the January trial, Lincoln City said: “John Vickers was a trusted employee, work colleague, and friend of many at Lincoln City Football Club for a number of years so the discovery of his actions was met with feelings of shock and disappointment.

“In closing, we would like to thank the authorities for their diligence in their investigations. Lincoln City Football Club are pleased to learn this matter as now been concluded and as such will be making no further comment.”

Caught after job transfer

At the trial in January, the prosecution said Vickers had siphoned off the cash on 287 occasions between January 1, 2006, and September 14, 2017. He took the money from the club’s PayPal account and lottery, transferring it to his own PayPal account.

Vickers began working for Lincoln City FC in 2010. He was promoted in 2010 to general manager and transferred to a new role in 2017. No longer in charge of the club’s accounts, Vickers was asked on multiple occasions to hand over access to them. He ignored all requests and was suspended. The club took his laptop and cellphone to investigate and discovered the thefts.

Judge Hirst, who also presided over the PoCA hearing this week, said: “This was a fraud perpetrated over a long period of time. For some of the time that this took place, Lincoln City had dreadful financial difficulties. You taking money from them certainly did not help.”

Vickers began gambling in his youth on slot machines in the bar his family owned, using his own money. But in 2006, now in the grip of a gambling addiction, he began to steal from the Imps. Like many addicts, he hoped for one big win that would enable him to repay his employer.

His lawyer said Vickers had stopped gambling after he was arrested in September 2017 and was also being treated for depression.

Embezzlement a major problem

The Proceeds of Crime hearing for Vickers was the second to make the news this week in relation to gambling.

On Wednesday, a 58-year-old former office administrator got off lightly at her PoCA hearing. She had stolen more than £20,000 from her employer, a bakery. The court decreed she need repay only £10 ($12.72).

Elsewhere, a Japanese man stole AU$140,000 (US$96,082; £75,620) from his boss during their business trip to Australia. He blew the lot in a Melbourne casino in less than four hours. He was jailed earlier this week for eight months.

Last December, a British man pleaded guilty to stealing £1m ($1.26m) from his employer in order to gamble on highly addictive fixed-odds betting terminals.

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