Thursday, March 18, 2010

Labour Councillor - Benefit Fraud

A Bristol city councillor has been convicted of falsely claiming more than £3,500 in benefits.

Simon Crew, who represents Brislington East, was paid a carer's allowance for looking after his sick mother, a court heard.

But after he was elected as a Labour councillor in May 2007 he failed to tell the Department of Work and Pensions about his new role, allowances for which pushed his earnings beyond the threshold that entitled him to claim a carer's allowance.

The amount wrongly claimed totalled more than £3,550 between May 28, 2007, and October 12, 2008, North Somerset Magistrates Court heard yesterday.

Crew, of Eastwood Road, St Anne's, was convicted of failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting his entitlement to benefit and ordered to pay £1,400 in fines and costs. He has already paid back the money wrongly claimed.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lib Dem Councillor - Fraud

STEPHEN Sharp has stood down from public life with immediate effect — five months after being convicted of fraud.
In a letter dated March 3, Mr Sharp resigned as a councillor on New Mills Town Council and High Peak Borough Council.

The trainee train driver has quit the roles because of work commitments.

He said: "I have decided, with great regret, to stand down as the councillor for New Mills West, on both High Peak Borough and New Mills Town Councils, with immediate effect.

"A daily commute to Leeds, and my current work commitments throughout the North West, make it impossible to meet the demands of regular council and attend meetings."

Mr Sharp stood down as the Liberal Democrats' Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the High Peak, before admitting eight counts of fraud and being sentenced to community service last October.

He faced continued calls to leave public life and stand down as a councillor on both authorities.

Now he has, there will be by-elections to fill the roles on the two councils.

These are expected to be held at the same time as the general election, which is believed to take place on May 6.

The posts are being advertised on the notice board at New Mills Town Council.

Mr Sharp explained: "I have waited till near the general election so the by-elections can run concurrently with it, thus saving council tax payers the cost of another election."

He added: "It has been a privilege to serve the electorate of New Mills and High Peak."

Mr Sharp went on to thank colleagues for showing support over the past five years.

Cllr Alistair Stevens was selected as the Liberal Democrats' Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the High Peak in February.

Three weeks ago, he refused to comment about Mr Sharp, when we asked: "Should he stand down from public life?"

Mr Stevens replied: "I'm here to talk about policies. As far as we're concerned, that's history. That's not a real issue."

He added: "I think this has been done to death in the press. We've moved on, they should move on a bit as well."

But since then, the Advertiser received letters from readers who raised questions over the issue.

Mr Stevens did not want to issue a statement, regarding the resignation of Mr Sharp, calling it a personal matter for him.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Labour Councillor - Drugs and Money Laundering

Former Preston Council deputy leader Frank McGrath

Frank McGrath, 59, was convicted of nine counts of concealing criminal funds for Silvano Turchet, 55, who is currently serving 15 years for the importation of Class A drugs.

The ex-Labour councillor, of Belton Hill, Fulwood, laundered more than £300,000 for Turchet, Manchester Crown Court heard.

The money was used to purchase a house in Wrexham, bought for £116,000 in December 2004, a hangar where Turchet stored an aeroplane used to import drugs, and a £17,000 designer watch.

McGrath also transferred £154,000 to an Italian bank account, the court heard.

Turchet pleaded guilty to nine counts of transferring criminal property at the beginning of the trial.

Ian Cruxton, deputy director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), said: ''Frank McGrath made a living on the back of serious organised crime, and anyone who abuses their professional position to prop up criminal activity as he did can expect us to come after them too.''

Andrew Penhale, of the Crown Prosecution Service's Organised Crime Division, said: ''The case illustrates our determination not only to prosecute those criminals engaged directly in organised crime, but also the soft under-belly - those apparently legitimate businesses that facilitate and support organised crime in the background.''

McGrath was remanded in custody for sentencing on March 3 for the crime, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.