14 Jan 2013

Gourmet burger vendor gets his chips

Yes, this is the headline on a press release from Croydon Council (h/t Dave).

A fraudster who cheated the council out of thousands of pounds while running a gourmet pub in Devon has been jailed for a year.

Benefits cheat Stephen Sussams, of Marston Way, Norbury, failed to tell the council he was the landlord of the Royal Dart Hotel.

The pub was famed for its £125 champagne and truffle beefburger speciality, said to be the most expensive burgers in the world.

Following a council investigation, it emerged Sussams, 59, had pocketed £17,600 in care fees mistakenly paid into a dead man’s bank account, which Sussams had access to as the deceased’s carer.

He had also illegally claimed more than £14,000 in housing and council tax benefit after failing to tell the council he was living with his civil partner.

Sussams was sentenced on Friday, 11 January, at Croydon Crown Court.

At a trial in December, he was found guilty of theft, dishonestly making a false statement or representation, and three counts of fraud by failing to disclose information.

The council has launched confiscation proceedings against Sussams, which will examine his assets to see what he gained as a result of his criminal activity.

Speaking after sentencing, Councillor Dudley Mead, deputy leader of the council, said:
I applaud the council’s investigators for bringing this complicated case to a successful conclusion.

It serves as a clear warning that those who seek to cheat the benefits system and defraud honest taxpayers out of hard-earned money should know that the council and the courts will punish them with the maximum penalty available.

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