having been convicted of defrauding the city council of nearly
and Ian Pinnock 33, were
each sentenced to eight months imprisonment for their involvement
in dishonestly obtaining housing benefit and council tax rebate, amounting
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.