A solicitor who was jailed earlier this year for stealing more than £4m – and maybe as much as £10m – from her clients and the Church of England has been ordered to pay back £1.9m within three months, or face a further eight years in prison.
Meanwhile, a “narcissistic” solicitor and district judge this week received a suspended jail sentence after being convicted of fraud offences, including providing fictional letters in support of applications for planning permission.
Linda Box, formerly senior partner of Wakefield law firm Dixon Coles McGill, subsequently closed down, pleaded guilty in March to nine counts of fraud, two of forgery and one of theft, and was sentenced to seven years.
She stole over £4m, mainly from estates, to fund a lavish lifestyle. It is estimated that the final figure could be as high as £10m stolen over 15 years.
A Solicitors Regulation Authority spokesman said it was asking people to come forward if they or relatives used the firm, because it was holding more money from the firm’s client account than had been claimed.
At a proceeds of crime application hearing in Leeds Crown Court this week, Ms Box was given a confiscation order saying she had three months to pay back the more than £1.9m or face having eight years added to her current sentence.
Following the hearing, Detective Inspector Dan Tillet told local reporters that Ms Box had used the stolen money to fund luxury holidays and a second home in the Lake District, adding that he hoped her victims would take some comfort from the confiscation.
Among realisable assets reportedly agreed by the judge was £13,750 for the solicitor’s collection of 110 pairs of designer shoes.
At the trial it emerged that Ms Box had taken advantage of her role as registrar with the Diocese of Wakefield to steal a further £63,000.
In October 2016, she was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Keith Shaw was convicted of a number of fraud offences covering 2012-15 and was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, fined £2,747, and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
In an 18-month police investigation, Mr Shaw, a solicitor from Whitby, North Yorkshire, and deputy district judge, was found to have submitted correspondence in support of multiple planning applications to develop land that was found to be false.
Scarborough Borough Council reported its concerns to police in November 2015
He also falsely claimed for a refund of surveyor’s fees that he said he had been charged for a survey that did not go ahead, when it had.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said he was “a highly qualified judge who used his enhanced knowledge of the legal system to commit crime and deceive a number of public sector organisations”.
He added that Mr Shaw “is a narcissistic individual who thought he could use his position to defraud others for personal gain.
“It is important we catch professionals such as Shaw as it sends a clear message that no-one is above the law.”