Shamed Lawrence Service submitted false invoices to reclaim £7587.62 in August 2016 in a desperate bid to raise cash to keep his business going.
At Falkirk Sheriff Court last Thursday his lawyer claimed the scam was “ill-judged” and admitted the 65-year-old grandad had been “foolish”.
Service, from 27 Church Road, California, had originally been charged with obtaining a total of £17,587.62 by fraud.
The court heard the crooked OAP, who used to work in the advertising industry, had intended to use the money to buy equipment to start a new business.
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His lawyer said: “His thought process was to come up with some scheme when the chips were down and he had no other option.”
Sheriff Craig Caldwell told Service, who had admitted a previous conviction for fraud, that he was very close to a custodial sentence, but opted to place him on a community payback order with the added condition he complete 200 hours unpaid work in six months.
He warned him: “You were originally charged with defrauding the public purse of over £17,000.
“Had the original amount remained it would have been jail.
“This offence has brought you to the cusp of a custodial sentence, however given your age and the fact you are no longer involved in business means I can impose a community payback order as a direct alternative.”