A former council boss took more than £23,000 of public money to cover his own credit card debts, a court has heard.
Patrick Power, 49, siphoned the cash while working as senior service manager for children’s services at Manchester City Council and later as property rationalisation manager.
A judge handed Power a suspended prison sentence so that he could continue working and more quickly pay back council tax payers.
Between 2009 and 2013 Power was taking town hall funds by signing his own claims for ‘petty cash’ and writing cheques to a defunct football club where he was secretary.
He convinced an office junior to process 55 transactions from cash pots used to provide immediate assistance to families in need whose children were at risk of going into care.
Manchester City Council said it suspended Power ‘as soon as allegations came to light’ and dismissed him from his job ‘in line with council procedures’.
After admitting four counts of fraud and one count of money laundering, Power was handed an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.
John Bromley-Davenport QC said: ‘You were in a high and senior position. You worked for many years for the council in a trusted capacity and you completely abused that trust.
‘The reason you did so was because of financial difficulties, but as a responsible and intelligent and well-educated man with a good job, you should have sought other ways to get round these problems. You are very ashamed and remorseful and have a loving family who support you.
‘I can suspend the sentence, not least because it will enable you to pay back hard-pressed council tax payers who you have deprived and the sooner you do that, the better.’