According to a Metro report, Free used her position as a building society boss to steal more than £180,000 over a period of ten years and share out money to family members.
Free, of Whitchurch, Cardiff, admitted theft by an employee at Cardiff Crown Court.
Free had worked at the mutual for 23 years. But she asked junior staff to move money into her own account, telling them it was her ‘bonus’.
The theft was uncovered when a deceased customer’s son noticed that the account had been closed and that £9,170 was missing.
Uncovering the crime
Prosecutor Alison O’Shea said: “Senior managers at Principality Building Society became aware of Free’s actions when they received a complaint from the son of a deceased gentleman.”
In total, Free moved a total of £187,170.63 in 149 transactions, using bank transfers and paying in cheques.
Kevin Seal, defending, said: “One cannot imagine a greater fall from grace. She was highly thought of at Principality Building Society and was promoted because of her industry in that profession.”
Judge Eleri Rees told her: “It is astonishing to find you in the dock after living most of your life caring for your family and working for 23 years at a building society.”
Principality Building Society is the largest building society in Wales and the sixth largest in the United Kingdom.