A crooked accounts manager told his bosses that he was seeing family in Italy when in fact he was serving a prison sentence for an earlier fraud.
Father-of-two Riccardo Sorice, 59, got a job with Bradford-based Pro Audio Systems Ltd while he was awaiting sentence for his earlier offending and covered up his jail term by claiming he was going to his homeland to see his dying father.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Halifax man Sorice even arranged for a letter, purporting to be from Italy, to be sent to his unsuspecting employers updating them about the situation.
After serving just three months of a 12-month sentence Sorice, of Cliff Crescent, went back to working for the company, but over the next six years he stole just over £650,000.
The court heard that Sorice, who also had convictions for offences against previous employers in 1999 and 2003, suffered from a “compulsive disorder” and about £60,000 of the stolen money had been spent on buying CDs.
Prosecutor Alisha Kaye told the court that Sorice had started working for Pro Audio Systems in February 2008 and he was treated as “one of the family” by his employers.
Sorice, whose salary rose to £35,000 while he worked for the firm, pleaded guilty to defrauding the company last December and he was jailed for five years.
He will now a further hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act, but his barrister Graham Arnold said the case did not involve a lavish lifestyle.
Mr Arnold said the family had lived in a modest property for 16 years and where the money had gone was “a mystery”.
He submitted that his client’s mental health difficulties were so severe that he was powerless to control them and described Sorice as being almost “like a child”.
Mr Arnold said Sorice was ashamed, appalled and devastated by his actions.
The Recorder of Bradford Judge Roger Thomas QC said Sorice had held a position of trust at the company and he had told them “a total lie” about his previous jail sentence in 2008.
The judge said Sorice had then set about a sophisticated and long-running fraud which had resulted in him stealing an average of £100,000 a year.