Currently viewing the tag: "jail"

Council tenants in England who sub-let their homes could now face up to 2 years in prison under the coalition government’s new proposals.

The government plans would see the creation of a new criminal offence “Tenancy Fraud”, with a fine of up to £50,000 also possible.

UK Government officials estimate that up to 160,000 tenants sub-let their council homes to other people at cost of £5 Billion a year to the taxpayer.

Grant Shapps, the UK’s Government Housing Minister said: “Tenancy cheats are taking advantage of a vital support system for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and getting away with a slap on the wrist while our waiting lists continue to grow. It’s time for these swindlers to pay the price. It would cost us billions of pounds to replace the huge number of unlawfully occupied social homes across the country. Meanwhile tenancy cheats can earn thousands of pounds letting out their property, which was given to them in good faith and which could instead be offering a stable home to a family in need. The proposals I’ve announced today would not only deliver justice to these fraudsters but will also act as a deterrent to those who think they can earn a fast buck from this precious resource. I want everyone to know that our country’s social homes are going to those in genuine need, not providing a ‘nice little earner’ to someone who could afford to live elsewhere.”

Local councils would also receive more powers to investigate fraud, including better access to information from banks and utility companies.

Ministers are putting the proposals forward for consultation.

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Mark Lawton, 45, from Town Moor in Doncaster, who acquired a £2million property portfolio, including luxury properties in Tenerife and across South Yorkshire, through fraud has been jailed for two years at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday.

Investigations revealed that Mark Lawton, 45, from Town Moor in Doncaster had committed a series of frauds from which he amassed a significant property portfolio. He owned 17 properties in Tenerife and across Doncaster, which were rented out, but for which he didn’t declare any profits. He also lied about his financial circumstances to obtain a loan by deception, as well as providing false income details in order to claim the education maintenance allowance for his son.

Although Lawton also owned the extensive property portfolio he had claimed that his family’s small tanning salon business only made him an income of around £10,000 per year. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) estimate that Lawton had defrauded the taxpayer out of £65,000 in unpaid taxes alone.

Lawton was caught when HMRC seized 10,000 illegal cigarettes which he had been selling and £50,000 in cash stored at his home and business premises. He was found guilty of fraud and failing to pay tax on his business profits.

Lawton pleaded guilty to charges of cheating the public revenue, evasion of excise duty and possession of criminal property (£50,000 cash). He was sentenced yesterday to 24 months imprisonment for cheating the public revenue, three months imprisonment for the evasion of excise duty – sentences to run concurrently. £50,420 cash was forfeited to the Crown for the charge of possession of criminal property. Lawton was also ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.

Lawton’s wife Christina was convicted of fraudulently claiming the education maintenance allowance for their children. The couple’s accountant Joanne Outram, 42, from Rossington was also convicted of helping the couple to prepare false documentation, to facilitate their claim for the education maintenance allowance payments.

Peter Hollier, Deputy Regional Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC said:

“Lawton made a significant effort to hide his business dealings from the authorities. He enjoyed the benefits of our public services and lived a lifestyle that many families work hard to achieve, but his activity was stealing vital public revenue. It is only fair to those hard working families that he has been brought to justice.”

Sentencing Mark Lawton yesterday His Honour Judge Kelson QC commented: “You and your wife were living well beyond your declared means. What you declared to the Revenue was far short of the correct figure – therefore you were enjoying a better lifestyle than that of honest people.”

The Judge also passed comment sentencing the couple’s accountant Joanne Outram stating: “You are a qualified accountant, a professional person and you did this for personal gain by keeping the custom of your client. The involvement by professional people by making claims on the state erodes the public confidence.”

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Ex property tycoon and Leeds United director Simon Morris is facing up to 14 years in jail after being found guilty of conspiring to blackmail a former business partner.

Morris, a property whizzkid whose fortune was once put at £69 Million, (GBP), instructed his bodyguard, Johnathon Ashworth, to intimidate Hedley Manton into repaying £100,000, lent to him to help buy a house.

Mr Manton had refused to repay the loan after the collapse of the Leeds-based student property firm he and Morris had owned. The disputed loan was due to be subject to county court proceedings but Morris instead asked 21½-stone Ashworth to do whatever he could to help get the money back.

Mr Manton was left “shaking and pale” after Ashworth, a former doorman with ‘biceps that appeared to be the size of an average man’s thighs’, visited him three times in six days. A month later, Morris was served with a bankruptcy petition, with creditors’ claims totalling £3.5 Million pounds (GBP).

After a six-day trial, the jury at Newcastle Crown Court took less than an hour to find Morris, 34, and Ashworth, 51, guilty of conspiring to blackmail Mr Manton between March 1 and April 1, 2009.

Judge Brian Forster QC granted the pair bail but warned them they would be going to jail. He said: “I will only be able to impose a custodial sentence having regard to the authorities and the guidance given to judges in this type of case.”

Ashworth also faces sentencing for two weapons possession charges, to which he had earlier pleaded guilty.

The 2 men are due to be sentenced on October 24.

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