GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - A British man who was extradited to the United States with his wife to face fraud charges was sentenced Thursday to four years in federal prison.
GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — A British man who was extradited to the United States with his wife to face fraud charges was sentenced Thursday to four years in federal prison.
Paul Dunham, the former president of the electronics company Pace, and his wife acknowledged in guilty pleas in December that between 2002 and 2009 they stole $1 million from the company by charging personal expenses to corporate credit cards and submitting false reimbursement requests. The Dunhams acknowledged that they improperly had Pace reimburse them for mortgage payments on two time share units they bought in Barbados, home furniture, luxury bedding and a dog sofa, among other things.
During Dunham's sentencing hearing Thursday, prosecutor Leah Bressack called the thefts a "systematic pilfering of the company" and showed photographs of some of the items he purchased using the company's money. Many of them were furnishings for two homes the couple bought in North Carolina including leather sofas, a picture of a flamenco dancer, expensive fountains and a mosquito repellant system. Dunham, 59, also had the company pay for him to entertain friends with a ride in a private jet and a stay at a cottage with a butler, Bressack said.
"I am truly sorry," Dunham said in court Thursday, as a number of Pace employees sat in the audience.
Last week, Dunham's wife, Sandra Dunham, the former director of sales and marketing for Pace, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 30 days of home detention. Because she had already served much of the time she is expected to return to England within weeks.
Paul Dunham, who prosecutors suggested was behind much of the fraud, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering. He will have to report to prison at the end of the month and can apply to serve a part of his prison sentence in England.
As part of their plea agreement, the couple has been ordered to repay the $1 million they stole, though they have said they are broke.
The couple is from Northampton, England, and previously lived in Maryland and North Carolina while working for North Carolina-based Pace. The company makes equipment to install and remove electronics components from circuit boards and employs about 70 people worldwide.
Before the Dunhams were brought to the United States in May they fought a long battle to avoid extradition by appealing to Britain's High Court and the European Court of Human Rights. They raised concerns over their health and possible treatment in U.S. custody, but both courts rejected their bids.
They also attempted to kill themselves with a drug overdose the day before they were due to be flown out of Britain.
Paul Dunham repeatedly told reporters that their extradition was "disproportionate" and complained that the British justice system had let them down. Critics of the U.S.-Britain extradition agreement have long argued that it allows American authorities to demand the extradition of British citizens without presenting significant evidence, and that the treaty is lopsided because it is easier to extradite a British citizen to the U.S. than vice versa.
The Dunhams' attorneys, Deborah Boardman and Gary Proctor, said in a written statement Thursday that they are disappointed Paul Dunham will have to spend additional time in prison but that "he can finally see light at the end of this long, dark tunnel."
Associated Press reporter Sylvia Hui contributed to this report from London.
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