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Children's reading scheme treasurer embezzled over £62,000

Karen McCormack, 49, took money from Bookbug to fund a gambling addiction.

Court: McCormack was rumbled when another volunteer paid a cheque into the account and noticed discrepancies.
Court: McCormack was rumbled when another volunteer paid a cheque into the account and noticed discrepancies.

The treasurer of a children's reading scheme is facing jail for embezzling more than £62,000 to fund a gambling addiction.

Karen McCormack, 49, took money from Bookbug on 65 different occasions during a 14-month period when she was in charge of the account.

She was caught when another volunteer paid a cheque into the account and noticed discrepancies.

She confronted McCormack who confessed: "I took the money."

McCormack from Rutherglen, South Lanakrshire pleaded guilty to embezzling £62,250, a crime branded "shameful" by the sheriff, between April 2016 and June 2017.

The court heard McCormack was employed by Glasgow City Council inspecting nurseries and volunteered with Bookbug as their treasurer with responsibility for the account.

Bookbug - which started in 2002 - provides free books to children in Scotland along with song and rhyme sessions to encourage families to read together.

Procurator fiscal depute Deborah Carroll said: "The embezzlement had a significant impact on the finances of the charity.

"At the time of the reporting it was unclear whether the charity had the finances to continue.

"They had enough money to continue until March.

"They have been able to secure funding, so it can continue."

'The embezzlement had a significant impact on the finances of the charity.'
Procurator fiscal depute Deborah Carroll

On June 23 last year, another Bookbug volunteer paid a cheque into the bank and requested a statement.

She noticed a number of discrepancies with large number of payments having been withdrawn by the accused for events which had not happened.

Miss Carroll said she confronted McCormack and said: "Please don't tell me this is what I think it is."

McCormack confessed and said: "I'm so sorry".

She explained she was using it for online gambling and didn't know how to tell her.

The Bookbug account showed 65 transactions when money had been transferred to McCormack's account and used for gambling.

It was heard there has been no repayment yet.

Defence lawyer Neil Kilcoyne said McCormack had taken money for gambling.

He said: "She had taken further sums in the hope she would win so that she could repay.

"But, obviously that didn't occur."

Sheriff Johanna Johnston QC deferred sentence for reports and continued McCormack's bail.

She said: "You have pled guilty to a crime that's really shameful.

"To take money from a charity is a particularly difficult crime for the court to deal with."

Despite what prosecutors stated, the Scottish Book Trust - who run Bookbug - insist the money was stolen from an organisation called South Glasgow Childcare Partnership Trust (SGCPF).

In a statement, the trust said: "SGCPF delivers Bookbug activities as one strand of their programme.

"The money in question is not Bookbug or Scottish Book Trust funds.

"Karen McCormick is not treasurer of Bookbug.

"She is a volunteer at the South Glasgow Childcare Partnership Forum."

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