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West Midlands Police:Major charity fraud investigation was police officer’s last

September 18, 2012, 9:26 am

A POLICE officer who led a five year inquiry into a complex charity fraud died suddenly just months before a group of men were convicted and jailed as a result of his investigation.

Six men were sentenced on Friday (14 September) for conspiracy to defraud and money laundering after stealing millions of pounds of public money.

They used Astonbrook Housing Association – a charity for housing asylum seekers to pocket much of the government cash for themselves.

Detective Constable Mark Simmons, 49, who had served with West Midlands Police for 25 years, led the investigation, code named Operation Oxygen,

Despite almost five years of work, he was unable to witness its conclusion after dying suddenly in June this year.

His colleagues have now paid tribute to him, saying that the sentences are a testament to Marks professionalism, talent and dedication.

Sergeant Emma Hickl, who worked with Mark on the inquiry, said: “Mark worked tirelessly and conducted a painstaking investigation.

“The insurmountable evidence he gathered ensured these individuals were bought to justice and I know he would be delighted with the outcome.

“I am only sorry that he is not with us to see all his hard work coming to fruition.”

Marks wife, Sue Simmons, said: “I am incredibly proud of everything that Mark has achieved.

“I am pleased with the outcome and I know he would have been too.”

Following the sentences, Mark, along with other members of his team, have been nominated for a commendation for their work on the investigation.

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