A volunteer fundraiser appeared in court today accused of pocketing half a million pounds meant for forces charity Help for Heroes.
Christopher Copeland, 51, has been charged with keeping £518,000 instead of passing it on to servicemen and women injured on the front line.
Copeland was confronted by protesters as he appeared at Exeter Magistrates Court in court.
He faces 15 counts of fraud by false representation and one offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Inside the court he spoke only to confirm his name and address and to plead not guilty to the 16 charges, allegedly committed between 2009 and 2011.
The court clerk told him: “You face a number of allegations, there are a total of 16 charges at various places in respect of fraud.
“There are 15 of which you gave false representation when presenting on behalf of the general public while you were collecting for charity, that is the fraud allegations.
“The proceeds of crime allegation is that between April 1 2009 and September 1 2011 at Crediton you concealed criminal property of £518,397 by depositing cash into business accounts.”
Magistrates told Copeland, who was casually dressed in a chequered shirt and jeans, the case would be sent to the city’s crown court.
He was given unconditional bail ahead of a committal hearing on July 8 and ignored a group of about ten protesters outside court as he left.
Help for Heroes was founded by Bryn and Emma Parry in October 2007 with the aim of assisting wounded servicemen and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
In June 2011 the charity celebrated breaking the £100 million mark thanks to a tide of public support and fundraising events across the country.