Ex Milton Keynes businessman and his wife admit fraud charges

MPMC Paul and Sandra Dunham
MPMC Paul and Sandra Dunham

A man who founded a successful Milton Keynes business has admitted defrauding the US company he and his wife worked for.

On Wednesday Paul and Sandra Dunham pleaded guilty to a fraud conspiracy amounting to $1m (£640,000) expenses fraud and money laundering in plea agreements with US authorities.

Mr Dunham, 59, also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of money laundering.

The couple had spent the money on a Barbados timeshare, luxury bedding and a dog sofa.

The Dunhams had always denied the charges and had fought extradition to the US.

Mr Dunhamn’s pensioner father Frederick Dunham, who lives in Blue Bridge, Milton Keynes, had loaned the couple his £10,000 savings to pay legal costs.

Mr Dunham founded the UK arm of Pace in Blakelands near Newport Pagnell 27 years ago. After the business went from strength to strength, he was promoted to chief executive of the American company, which was run by the late Mr William Siegal.

He and his wife Sandra left their Milton Keynes home and lived in the States for nine years.

They resigned and returned to England four years later after becoming embroiled in a dispute with Mr Seigal’s son Eric.

They were accused of embezzling money involving business expense claims over the nine years in the US – which the couple insisted were genuine.

Mr Dunham told the Citizen at the time: “The dispute is a civil matter but we are being treated like criminals. Under the Extradition Act, my wife and I face being locked up in separate American prisons until we can prove our innocence when the trial takes place in a few years’ time.”

Between 2002 and 2009, the pair had charged personal expenses to their corporate credit cards when they worked for PACE, an electronics repair company.

They had also billed the European arm of the company for expenses they had already claimed from the worldwide arm.

The couple had sought to avoid extradition to the US by appealing to the High Court and the European Court of Human Rights, but their bids were rejected.

In May, Mr and Mrs Dunham were taken to hospital after an apparent suicide pact on the day they were due to report to police and be flown out of the UK.

But later they were handed over to US Marshalls at Heathrow Airport by officers from the Met Police’s extradition unit.

The couple, who now live in Northamptonshire, have agreed to pay back the $1m they claimed.

Mr Dunham faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the expenses fraud and money laundering.

Because of her plea agreement, his wife, 58, will be sentenced to 60 days in prison.

The pair will be sentenced in January.