A director at a UK luxury-goods store claims he embezzled nearly $280,000 to pay off his now-ex wife, who was blackmailing him over his secret gay life.
Christopher Brown, 55, claimed he used the money he siphoned from upscale retailer Dawson’s to pay off his then-wife, Mandy, in 1997. She had apparently discovered her husband had been calling gay chat lines.
Mandy supposedly threatened to out her husband unless he agreed to an “outrageous spending limit.” The money went to pay for private school for their son, as well as fancy restaurants, hotels and a trip to Florida, according to Mr. Murphy’s attorneys.
Murphy’s wife denies her husband’s version of the story.
Mr. Murphy, who now lives in France with his male companion, plead not guilty to four counts of theft. Nonetheless he was found guilty, and is serving a two-year-prison term. He claimed he only “borrowed” the money, and repaid more than $180,000 over two years.
“You chose to siphon off cash from company business accounts to fund your own financial expenditure,” proclaimed Judge Recorder James Watson “‘I do take into account the pressures upon your life and the shame of being unable to admit to yourself your sexuality.”
Mr. Brown initially refused to return to Britain for questioning., but was eventually arrested in France in 2011.
“Only the stability of Dawsons helped it to weather the financial storm,” said Detective Constable Andrew Stuckes. “Mr Brown had to be forced to return from abroad and has now, rightly, been held to account for his actions.”
Brown’s lawyer tried to claim his client was acting fairly morally: “He didn’t believe he was acting dishonestly; some of the stolen funds were repaid. It was a very unusual set of circumstances; he was a loyal and decent employee for years.”
Yeah, right up until he embezzled almost a third of a million dollars.