Dawn Franklin was found to have spent over £145,000 on the company’s cards without permission and a subsequent investigation showed she had made purchases for private holidays, electrical items, days out and concert tickets.
Franklin was also found to have drawn money out using the company cards and used this for a number of fraudulent petty cash transactions, for which she created false receipts.
Between 2011 and 2018, the 47-year-old was in charge of organising trips to the seaside and theme park as well as residential trips within the UK and abroad, as part of her role as regional play and leisure co-ordinator at Autism East Midlands.
In order to fulfil her role, and as a senior member, she was entrusted with a credit card and debit card to be able to access these funds and organise the trips, which have a positive impact on the people the charity helps.
However, as well as this, she used the funds to pay for a total of 14 holidays for family and friends, as well as other personal payments.
The investigation found that she covered her overspending by creating false invoices and fabricating the level of hours delivered to local authorities, which resulted in them being overcharged.
In November 2018, her fraudulent activity came to light following a meeting, which she did not attend, and concerns around a contract she was entrusted with.
She was suspended whilst an internal investigation was carried out.
When her spending was examined and her fraudulent activity was revealed, she was brought before the courts.
Appearing at Nottingham Crown Court on January 14, Franklin, of Waterfields, Retford, was jailed for three years and four months.
She was charged and pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position of trust, fraud by false representation and false accounting.
Detective Constable Jason Jenkins, from Nottinghamshire Police, said: “During her time with the charity, Dawn Franklin held a significant position of trust and responsibility and it is absolutely abhorrent that she decided to abuse this for her own gain.
"No charity should be faced with this.
“Her actions had a huge effect on the charity, colleagues and people that they worked with, and it is really positive to see that the courts have recognised this and served her with a custodial sentence, which we hope will give her the opportunity to reflect on her actions.”
In a statement following the sentencing, the charity's chief executive said: "The trustees and senior management team of Autism East Midlands were shocked and distressed by the fraud conducted by Dawn Franklin.
"She betrayed her position of trust within the charity and the trust of the families she was employed to support.
"We are very glad that this has now come to a conclusion and that justice has been done.
"In the three years since this was discovered we have continued to grow the charity and support even more autistic people and their families.
"We are committed to ensuring Autism East Midlands remains a key source of help and advice for people of all ages on the autism spectrum."