A GAMBLING addict and his pregnant accomplice were caught at a jeweller's shop as they tried to sell fake gold chains.
Robert Catalano had already tried passing off a number of the base metal chains as nine carat gold at Cash Generator stores in Kidderminster and Cheque Centre in Halesowen, Worcester Crown Court heard.
His friend, Stephanie Reeves, later joined him at the same Kidderminster branch of Cash Generator, where their chains were discovered to be ordinary yellow metal with just a genuine hallmarked clasp.
They were challenged and ran off but they both later went on a similar trip to Peplows Jewellers in High Street, Worcester, where tests revealed the chains were fake, Paul Mytton, prosecuting, told the court. They had both given their real names and addresses and were arrested.
All the offences were carried out in May and June, 2012.
Catalano, 39, of Worcester Road, Dudley, West Midlands, admitted six charges of fraud and Reeves, aged 43, of Willenhall Road, Bilston, West Midlands, admitted three.
Martin Steen, for Catalano, said he had bought the chains thinking they were genuine. When he realised his mistake, he decided to try and get some money back by selling them or pawning them. He had now beaten his gambling addiction and had a full-time job in a taxi office.
Iain Sturgess, for Reeves, said she had joined in after they met at a betting shop where she worked and he was a regular. She was pregnant at the time and although she was not putting that forward as an excuse, she was not thinking clearly and was not sure what she was getting into, Mr Sturgess told the court.
Judge Michael Cullum said Catalano had a "horrible" record of dishonesty over a 20- year criminal career but he had decided to give him another chance.
He was given a 12-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months with supervision and a requirement to attend the thinking skills programme. He was also ordered to pay £500 compensation to be divided between the three stores. Reeves was given 135 hours unpaid work.