A FORMER Aberystwyth Town and Wales footballer has been jailed for six years after being found guilty of pocketing £424,000 as part of a fake apprenticeship scheme.
The Cambrian News reported “Mark Aizlewood, 57 – who played for Aberystwyth Town in 1996/97 – denied two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
He was found guilty of one but cleared on the other following a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
Aizelwood was sentenced on 26 February alongside Keith Williams and Paul Sugrue for their part in a £5m apprenticeship fraud scheme that targeted colleges, charities, football clubs and sports associations.
Jack Harper was also sentenced for a related fraud that targeted a single college.
Additionally, Christopher Martin and Steven Gooding were sentenced following guilty pleas before the start of the trial last year.
Together the men ran Luis Michael Training Ltd which operated fraudulently from its launch in 2009 – it created bogus apprenticeships enabling them to divert to themselves £5m of public funds intended by the Skills Funding Agency for young people.
Approaching further education colleges as a subcontractor, Luis Michael Training claimed it would provide training services to create football coaching apprenticeships for young people.
Instead, the company set about creating a fraudulent scheme in which most never received the qualifications or training that was promised.
The defendants also stole and created identities to cover up their crimes.
Sentencing the men, His Honour Judge Tomlinson said: “This was a shameful exploitation of taxpayers and colleges.
“You misappropriated eye-watering sums of Government money on the pretence of helping disadvantaged young people.
“You all exploited this sad state of affairs and your involvement was dishonest from the outset.”
Serious Fraud Office General Counsel Alun Milford said: “These men stole public money intended to give young people a start in life – these were cynical crimes for which they have been held to account today” here.