Christopher Farrell, who appeared in the recent series of The Apprentice, escaped jail today after being convicted of submitting fraudulent mortgage applications.
The former Royal Marine, 29, falsified applications by inflating clients’ salaries and, in some cases, inventing jobs for them.
He was desperate to obtain mortgages for clients so he could meet his monthly £5,000 target to receive his monthly bonus.
Clients had no idea he was lying on official records and submitting them to banks and building societies on their behalf.
It is thought he only stood to gain ‘a few hundred pounds’ from the scam, which was committed during a two-year stint as a mortgage broker.
Farrell – who was fired by Lord Sugar in week eight of the last series – admitted four counts of fraud by falsifying pay slips and P60s at an earlier hearing and asked for another three to be taken into consideration.
And yesterday he was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for two years at Plymouth Crown Court and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
Sentencing, Judge Frances Gilbert QC said: ”I take into account the letters I have received in reference to your good character.
”You served in the Royal Marines for 10 years on many different campaigns including in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.
”You have said you found it difficult to cope in the business world and you had no security financially.
”There were also family pressures from your wife and child, and I believe you wanted to do well in he business.”
Speaking after yesterday’s hearing, Farrell – dressed in a smart pinstripe suit and blue shirt and tie – revealed he had since split with his wife following the stress of the pending court hearing.
He said: ”I am really sorry about what has happened.
”None of it should ever have happened and I want to thank everybody for their support during this time in my life. I just want to put it behind me now.
”It is something I deeply regret, I was under a lot of pressure at the time and I have been put under a lot of stress by all of this.”
Farrell, originally from The Wirral, Merseyside, was arrested in August 2010 – shortly before the latest BBC1 series was aired.
He was fired by Lord Sugar in week eight of the show, after being told he was a ‘nice guy’ but lacked the ‘ruthless streak’ to join his organisation.
Farrell had been working for Mortgages4Plymouth since November 2007 after leaving the Royal Marines.
But he turned to crime as he struggled to support his wife and seven-year-old step-daughter on his ”modest” £1,600-a-month salary.
The court was previously told that Farrell obtained mortgages for clients fraudulently by falsifying their incomes, without their knowledge; a scam that would only have netted him between £200 and £300.
Defending, Tracey Baker said Farrell felt ”pressured” into it as he tried to make ends meet.
He was caught out after one of the lenders, Santander Bank, carried out their own investigations and found he had altered official documents.
Farrell was fired and Devon and Cornwall arrested him in August, when he initially denied the offences which he said must have been carried out by someone else at the branch.
But admitted the fraud at Plymouth Magistrate’s Court on December 21 and asked for three other offences to be taken into consideration.
Just days before the series was due to be aired last autumn, it emerged that Farrell had a weapons conviction which he failed to disclose to the TV producers.
He appeared in court in Devon last September, where he admitted two charges of possessing an offensive weapon.
Police found an extendible baton and a knuckleduster in his Mercedes car after being called to his Plymouth home following a domestic argument with his wife.
Farrell’s wife did not press charges but a judge rejected claims the weapons were ‘trinkets’ from his days in the Marines.
He was given a two year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £847 costs.
He now works as a private contractor offering security for naval ships in war-zones and will fly from Sri Lanka to Egypt.