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COUNCIL STAFF IMPRISONED FOR BENEFIT FRAUD

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Two former employees of Manchester City Council were imprisoned on Friday ...
Two former employees of Manchester City Council were imprisoned on Friday

having been convicted of defrauding the city council of nearly

£7,000 over a three year period. Paul Roczniak age 33,

and Ian Pinnock 33, were

each sentenced to eight months imprisonment for their involvement

in dishonestly obtaining housing benefit and council tax rebate, amounting

to£6,899.36.

Sentencing them, Judge Owen stated that they had pleaded guilty to serious

offences, and noted that they had not just committed them against the city

council but that 'the citizens of the City of Manchester had been

defrauded', and that the sum lost had deprived others of the benefit of it.

He considered the fraud to be sophisticated and that the gravity of the

offence lay not just in the amount involved but in the length of time

(three years) it had been perpetrated.

Roczniak, had been employed within Manchester Benefits Unit, and

responsible for administering claims for housing and council tax benefit.

In rejecting the defence's submissions that custody would not be

appropriate in this case Judge Owen noted that Roczniak had been in a

position of trust and authority and that his actions were a flagrant breach

of this trust.

Pinnock, who had been employed in the city council's Operational Services

Department, had falsely claimed housing benefit/council tax rebate from

Manchester City Council over a period of three years, claiming to be on a

considerably lower wage than he was actually receiving. The claims had been

processed on each occasion by

Roczniak, and that Roczniak had ensured no relevant paperwork had survived.

Following an investigation by Counter Fraud Officers from Manchester City

Council both parties were arrested, charged with false accounting, and

dismissed from their jobs.

Claire Nangle, executive member for finance for Manchester City

Council, said: 'These men have been stealing from the people of Manchester

and I am pleased that council staff have uncovered the deception. This

case further demonstrates how we are tightening up on benefit cheats and

becoming more knowledgeable about all the tricks fraudsters use to thieve

from the public purse. The message is clear to these people: we will not

tolerate those who undermine the trust placed in them, we will find out and

we will prosecute.'

Richard Paver, city treasurer, said: 'It has long been our contention that

benefit fraud is not a victimless crime, not only does it reduce the money

available to those with a genuine entitlement, but also increases the

burden on the council tax payer. I concur with Judge Owen's sentiments that

these men have not merely committed crimes against the city council but

have defrauded the citizens of the City of Manchester.'

Manchester has a Free Confidential Benefit Fraud Hotline which members of

the public can use to report Benefit Fraud the number is 0800 783 9668.

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