A thieving charity boss from Moray has been warned she faces prison after pocketing a former member’s funeral collection.
Mourners pledged cash to support Elgin Stroke Friends following the death of David Newlands to help others fighting back from the condition.
However, the money never made it to the bank account of the charity after it was handed over to Janice Russell, from Lhanbryde, by the funeral director.
The 57-year-old, who was vice-chairwoman of the group, ignored e-mails and phone calls from other members of the charity, which is affiliated with Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, trying to quiz her about what had happened to the donations.
She frustrated efforts to track down the cash over a period of months with a number of lies.
But yesterday she appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to a charge of embezzling £300.
Sheriff Gary Aitken described the offence as “appalling” while warning Russell that a prison sentence could be imposed when she appears again later this month.
Fiscal Alex Swain revealed that suspicions were raised about a month after Mr Newlands’ funeral when a family member contacted the undertakers in October 2018 to complain no acknowledgement had been sent to them about the collection.
The move prompted the firm to contact Mrs Russell – who lied about a letter having already been sent before instructing the group’s treasurer to send one.
Miss Swain said: “Over the course of the following months Elgin Stroke Friends and Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland attempted to get to the bottom of what had happened to the money.”
Russell voluntarily attended Elgin police station in August 2019 after further e-mails from the group pressing for the cash.
Solicitor Matthew O’Neill said his client had told him she had paid the outstanding money to the police but could not provide any documentation to prove it.
Sheriff Aitken said: “I think given her previous behaviour I am not prepared to take her word that the money has been provided.”
He asked for confirmation and deferred sentence upon Russell, of St Moluag Place, Lhanbryde, until January 30.