An accountant has admitted to stealing £540,000 to fund his gambling addiction, Durham Crown Court heard.
Lee Philip Hammond from Darlington admitted five counts of fraud, three of theft and one of attempted theft.
The accountant is expected to be jailed when he returns to receive his sentence on 22 March.
Hammond took £54,000 donated by three investors into his accountancy firm between 2008 and 2010. He stole more than £400,000 from Shildon and Sedgefield Developmental Agency. Following a merger, he also took £73,000 from the South Durham Enterprise Agency in 2010.