Housing officer jailed after subletting East Finchley council house
- Credit: Archant
A housing officer who illegally sublet a council property she had never lived in has been jailed.
Julie Miah was handed a 12-month prison term and ordered to pay £17,000 in compensation after admitting she had never lived in the two-bed council property in East Finchley.
Harrow Crown Court was told how Miah was first given the keys to the council property in Prospect Ring in 2007 and immediately sublet it to a family member, while she moved into a house in Luton she had inherited.
Miah carried on the deception for 10 years until Barnet Council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) launched an investigation in April last year after receiving a tip off suggesting the person living in the Barnet property was somebody else.
Counter-fraud investigators linked her to an address in Luton after piecing together a series of financial records which showed Miah had never lived in the property.
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When interviewed under caution by counter-fraud officers, she admitted she had never lived in the flat and immediately agreed to hand back the keys.
Sentencing Miah at Harrow Crown Court on February 9, Judge Hall accepted the deception was the result of a great deal of planning by the 45-year-old, and that the nature of her work would have meant she was aware that her actions were dishonest.
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Miah, who worked as a housing officer for Central Bedfordshire Council, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by failing to disclose information. In addition to the £17,000 she must pay in compensation, she was also ordered to pay £3,174 in costs.
Leader of Barnet Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, said: “At a time of significant housing pressures, it is totally unacceptable for someone to abuse the system in this way for so long, without ever having any intention of living in the property.
“Council homes are there for people in genuine need of housing, not for personal gain.
“I hope the custodial sentence and order for compensation handed down by the court in this case, sends out a very clear message about the consequences for anyone who might be contemplating something similar,” he added.
To report fraud, email CAFT@barnet.gov.uk or call the council’s fraud hotline on 020 8359 2007.