Crooked lawyer who stole £150,000 from clients is put behind bars for three years
A SOLICITOR who stole nearly £150,000 from clients in a fraud has been jailed for three years.
Steven Ronald Shepherd, 54, confessed to ripping people off during his time as a partner at Shepherd Evans Solicitors on Little Street, Macclesfield, where he handled criminal and probate matters.
The largest amount was £100,000 which he stole from a Sandra Middleton between November 1, 2010, and January 8, 2011 as part of a high value civil case. Shepherd, of Castle Hill, Prestbury, admitted eight charges of fraud and one charge of false accounting at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.
The court heard that Shepherd’s crimes were uncovered during a financial audit in November 2011.
Detective Constable Anthony Condon, from the Cheshire Police Economic Crime Unit, said: “As the result of our investigation we have been able to prove that Mr Shepherd abused his position as a solicitor and had stolen funds from the estates of deceased parties and from civil cases he was managing.
“He also falsified documents and cheques to conceal the fact that he had misappropriated funds from client accounts.
“These funds were used to pay Mr Shepherd’s personal tax liability and were also used for his own disposal.
“Shepherd’s misappropriation of funds has caused a great deal of upset for the families who trusted him to manage their personal affairs with respect and dignity.
“It has also caused a large amount of stress for Shepherd’s ex-partner in the law firm, Mr Evans, who was completely unaware of Shepherd’s criminal behaviour.”
Shepherd’s former business partner Chris Evans said: “I am extremely relieved that after three and a half years justice has been done.
“I am grateful to my family and friends for their loyal support throughout this ordeal and whilst he has been ordered to pay some compensation he will never undo the damage he has caused to myself and others around him.”
Other frauds committed over the two-and-a-half year period included £10,999.30 from Mrs P Nield in 2009; £13,747.96 from Mr W M Atkinson in 2010; £3,702.04 from Mrs J Maddocks in 2010; £11,341.58 from S Seaton, now deceased, in 2010; £1,862.45 from Mr A A Middleton on 2011; £1,184.12 from Mr J P Eaton in 2011; £2,280.50 from Mrs D Hewitt on 2011.
The total of the fraud was £145,117.95.
●● Steven Shepherd