Northampton US Fraudster Coming Home

A Northampton woman has been spared any further time in prison by a court in the United States today, after admitting a fraud charge.

Sandra Dunham, 58, pleaded guilty in December last year after losing a High Court fight with her husband Paul against extradition the previous April.

The couple admitted to conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme in which they requested reimbursement from their employer for mortgage payments on time shares in Barbados, luxury bedding for their home, a dog sofa and other personal expenses, the US Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland has said.

Mr Dunham also pleaded guilty to money laundering.

Michael Evans, the couple's UK solicitor, said: "Sandra Dunham, as part of a plea agreement with the US prosecutor, has today been sentenced in Maryland District Court to 30 days of imprisonment with credit for time already served in custody.

In practice Sandra therefore has 18 days of home confinement before she returns to the UK during the third week of February.

We look forward to her safe return to the UK and await the outcome of the sentencing of Mr Dunham which has been delayed until next Thursday, 5 February."

Mrs Dunham has pleaded at US District Court, Greenbelt, Maryland to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, he said. The seven wire fraud counts on the indictment leading to her extradition were dismissed.

According to their pleas, the defendants worked for Pace Worldwide which was located at various times in Maryland and North Carolina, and had a subsidiary in the United Kingdom named Pace Europe Ltd.

Pace produced parts for the repair and reworking of electronics for the military and others.

Mr Dunham held a number of executive positions, including president and chief operating officer. Mrs Dunham was initially hired to work for the European subsidiary in the accounts department, and eventually became the director of sales and marketing for Pace Worldwide.

The Dunhams moved from the UK to Maryland then North Carolina, and were provided with corporate credit cards.

Between 2002 and 2009, they fraudulently charged personal expenses to their corporate credit cards and submitted vouchers to Pace for reimbursement that falsely described the expenditures as business expenses, the statement said.

As a result of the lengthy scheme, one million dollars (£635,500) in actual losses were incurred.

The couple were flown to the US from Heathrow Airport in May. They were taken to Northampton General Hospital after taking a drug overdose the night before they were due to hand themselves in to police and in turn to US marshals.

Senior District Judge Howard Riddle at Westminster Magistrates' Court concluded that they had deliberately taken an overdose to avoid or delay extradition.

Later the couple, from Northampton, were handed over to US marshals at Heathrow by officers from the Metropolitan Police's extradition unit.

Mr Dunham faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy and money laundering.