Andy Pilley, the former owner of Fleetwood Town FC and Waterford FC, has been sentenced to 13 years in jail for a multi-million-pound fraud which tricked firms into expensive energy contracts.
Mr. Pilley was found guilty of two counts of running a business with the intention of defrauding creditors, one count of false representations, and one count of being concerned with the retention of criminal property following an eight-month trial.
On sentencing, Judge Knowles KC, said a ‘salesforce of cold-calling liars and manipulators duped very large numbers of honest and decent proprietors into long and expensive contracts’ for their gas and electricity amounting to tens of millions of pounds. Among those targeted were guest houses, children’s charities and companies providing support services for disabled people.
Pilley, his sister Michelle Davidson, and two other associates – 52-year-old Lee Qualter and 38-year-old Joel Chapman found themselves in front of Judge Knowles KC at Preston Crown Court. 52-year-old Pilley and his associates were responsible for targeting small business owners and deceiving them into signing long-term energy contracts between 2014 and 2016.
Prior to sentencing, Pilley’s barrister Jonathan Laidlow urged the judge not to come down too hard on the former club owner, saying his client was fundamentally a good man who has led and is capable of leading a productive and worthwhile life. To exemplify this, he told the court was told Pilley had been helping illiterate inmates while on remand in Preston Prison to write letters to loved ones.
The court heard that Pilley had already been in prison for four months in 1998 for conspiracy to steal from the Post Office when he was a counter clerk.
After the convictions in May Lord Michael Bichard, chair of National Trading Standards (NTS), said, ‘This is not a victimless crime – small business owners have lost vast sums of money to this fraud and many businesses have gone under.’
A mention hearing about compensation and confiscation orders is expected to be held in due course, the NTS added.