Ashok Patel, former practice manager at Highfields Medical Centre, denies £60,000 fraud
A medical practice manager helped himself to £60,000 of surgery funds, bringing the centre to the brink of bankruptcy, a court heard.
Ashok Patel (54) used a bogus reference and falsely claimed he had a first class business studies degree from the University of Leicester to get the job at the Highfields Medical Centre in 2007.
He was said to have initially impressed partners at the centre, which runs two surgeries – Melbourne Road, Highfields, and Moira Street, Belgrave – with 8,000 patients registered. However, during the first day of a trial at Leicester Crown Court yesterday, the jury was told Patel – who was on a £53,000-a-year salary by the time he left in 2010 – used business cheques "as if they were his own".
Jonathan Dunne, prosecuting, told the court Patel paid thousands into his own bank accounts and drew out large sums in cash.
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Posing as a doctor, he was said to have gone into a car dealership and used a medical centre cheque to put a £5,000 deposit on a Mercedes car. Patel denies four counts of fraudulently using his employers' cheques, between March 2008 and July 2010.
Mr Dunne told the court: "The prosecution say he's an out-and-out fraudster who brought this practice to the brink of bankruptcy.
"The doctors will tell you the practice nearly went bust with bills going unpaid. As practice manager he was responsible for running the finances."
Mr Dunne alleged Patel, of Blundell Road, Evington, Leicester, tried to hide his dishonesty with false entries on cheque stubs. These included falsely purporting payments had been made to a pharmaceutical company for supplies.
The cheque stubs showed a decorator was paid £3,700, when, in fact, he only received £700 and the defendant allegedly pocketed the remainder.
Senior partner Dr Jatin Patel told the court: "We were paying him handsomely and I felt I could trust this guy."
Mr Dunne said: "The total loss was about £60,000."
Patel used a cheque to pay off a £1,000 personal credit card balance and others to settle phone bills, which was not part of his salary agreement, it was claimed.
Mr Dunne said when questioned, the defendant claimed the centre's partners were trying to frame him and "had got it in for him".
He claimed every cheque he used was with their consent and they knew what he was spending the money on. He also put some discrepancies down to errors and poor bookkeeping.
When police searched Patel's home they allegedly found a fake MBA certificate from the University of Leicester.
The court was told he had never attended university. Mr Dunne said: "He got the job based on a creative CV."
The trial continues.