A PA with accountancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers in Birmingham has been jailed for nine months for fiddling £33,000 in an expenses scam.
The scandal rocked the company’s city headquarters after Angela Tilling, 44, also claimed she had a five-year affair with her married boss.
Tilling, who lived with her parents in Rednal, conned the company into bankrolling a £50,000 celebrity appearance at their Christmas party in a bid to boost her popularity.
She was jailed at Isleworth Crown Court in London after admitting six counts of fraud.
The court heard she was a respected employee at the PWC offices in Cornwall Street – but for years had been ripping off the company behind the back of her boss, John Minards, a full partner.
Her barrister, Francis Laird QC, told the court: “She was a woman approaching middle-age, unmarried, without children and living with her parents and was essentially quite lonely.
“There is plenty of scope, reading between the lines, that they were having an affair.
“They shared hotel rooms and he does admit sexual contact with her over a number of years, but denies full sexual intercourse.”
Mr Laird said some of the money his client stole was to provide entertainment for others because Tilling was desperate for the respect of others.
“She liked to be the centre of attention, providing days and nights out, and the celebrity guest reflects that and it was described as the best party the company had ever known,” he said.
“She is a lonely lady who bought the friendship and affection of people with whom she worked. It was not salted away for a rainy day.”
The court heard the fraud took the form of Tilling mirroring genuine expenses claims to generate a second payment to herself supported by forged documents and e-mails.
She falsely claimed £2,183.50 expenses for a 47-head staff lunch at Birmingham’s Hotel Du Vin in 2004, and £2,146.23 for a company hotel conference the following year.
The court also heard how Tilling blew a strict £25,000 budget when organising the company’s Christmas party in 2005, fraudulently transferring two £29,375 payments to cover the celebrity guest’s £50,000 appearance fee.
Tilling also falsely claimed a £15,000 payment by lying that she had paid the sum as a deposit to secure the guest - who was never named in court.
She was also paid a further £5,581.25 in bogus expenses in 2006 and £3,706 later that year for Solihull College support staff.
In 2007 she fraudulently claimed £2,225 for 60 theatre tickets at Birmingham’s Hippodrome - another company bash she organised.
An internal probe exposed Tilling and she was suspended in March 2008, resigned in May and was arrested during a dawn raid in January 2009.
When confronted, she denied acting dishonestly, claiming her behaviour was an attempt to prevent John Minard’s wife spotting suspicious payments on his credit card.
Judge Richard McGregor-Thompson told Tilling, who sat crying in the dock: “It can never give the court any pleasure at all to deal with someone of your age and unblemished character.
“You were trusted to deal with expenses for very senior people in this organisation and submitted a variety of false documentation to get them paid.
“You used the proceeds to buy friendship and affection and knew from the time of your arrest you were guilty, but chose to lie and only pleaded guilty six weeks before your trial.”