The case came to the attention of the Serious Fraud Office, following the death of the head of the unit, Michael Buckley.
The fraud by Buckley and the defendants over-inflated the income of the unit making it look far more successful than it really was, which the SFO says appeared to be motivated by vanity.
The defendants helped Buckley by creating false invoices for equipment which then allowed him to inflate the profits of the unit.
After Buckley’s death from a heart attack in 2005 it became apparent that the unit was not financially viable and it was forced to close, with 24 jobs lost as a result.
Three men pleaded guilty at Sheffield Crown Court today to conspiring with Buckley to falsely account.
Paul Liggins of Northampton (born 11/04/54) was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment, suspended for two years, 200 hours of unpaid community service
and to repay £84,102 within twelve months or serve two years imprisonment in default.
David Abbott of Sheffield (born 07/10/47) was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment suspended for two years, 120 hours of unpaid community service,
and to repay £47, 790 within six months or serve 18 months imprisonment in default.
William Whitehead of Chesterfield (born 13/08/46) was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment suspended for two years, 240 hours of unpaid community service;
and to repay £153, 074.35 within twelve months or serve three years imprisonment in default.
In addition each defendant was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £10,000.
The judge ordered that the money repaid by the defendants would be returned to Sheffield City Council as compensation.