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Former Worthing Tory councillor is jailed for fraud
A crooked ex-councillor who stole £70,000 has been jailed for 18 months.
If Conservative Mark O’Keeffe does not pay back £22,000 within three months he will be jailed for an additional three months.
O’Keeffe, who sat as a Tory member on the Castle ward at Worthing Borough Council between 2000 and 2002, stole the money from a client of his consultancy firm to “fund his lifestyle”, Sussex Police said.
Lewes Crown Court was told O’Keeffe, who ran consultancy firm O’Keeffe & Co Legal Solutions Ltd, was supposed to invest the cash into a property portfolio.
However, he did not do this and instead spent it. He admitted theft.
Previously O’Keeffe was banned from working for solicitors’ firms after faking a letter to a court.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) struck the 41-year-old off after finding out that he was pretending to be a solicitor.
The SRA discovered the degree of his deception after he was evicted from a rented property in Forest Barn Mews, Goring, in December 2011.
On leaving this property he left behind six bags of legal documents containing details of solicitors’ clients.
When his landlord passed them to the police it discovered he had written a letter to Worthing Magistrates’ Court claiming to be from Baker & Co solicitors. In fact, he had written it himself.
A statement from the SRA’s adjudicator, Nigel Butcher said: “Mr O’Keeffe acknowledged that he had not acted appropriately in relation to the production of the letter and that he had acted “naively” in relation to the abandonment of the documents.”
The body banned Mr O’Keeffe, now of Marine Crescent, Goring, from being employed as a solicitor or working for a solicitors’ firm.
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