Council officer jailed for thefts

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A TOP housing officer at South Holland District Council was jailed for 18 months for stealing cash from homeless families and lying his way into his job.

A Lincoln Crown Court hearing on Friday heard how Waheed Rabbani told families to pay him up to £600 to get private rented homes when he was homelessness team leader at South Holland.

Rabbani also tricked the authority into paying his £700 a week rent and to paying over thousands of pounds to his relatives claiming they were private landlords owed money under a “rent in advance” scheme operated to help homeless people find accommodation.

Liz Fell, prosecuting, said Rabbani was responsible for the council’s “rent in advance scheme” whereby cash was loaned to homeless families to assist them getting new accommodation.

She said Rabbani’s manager became concerned about the way the scheme was being operated and a full audit at the end of 2009 revealed a number of discrepancies.

The checks showed £6,300 had been paid over to Rabbani’s own landlord to cover his £700 a month rent.

Another £7,000 was paid to his brother-in-law and almost £2,000 to another relative. Both relatives said they believed the money they were receiving was actually Rabbani’s wages sent to their accounts because he had a problem with his own bank.

Ms Fell said Rabbani also asked homeless people to pay him large sums directly to secure a property.

Two families paid over £550 which they never saw again and a third man paid £600 which he was later repaid.

The investigation also revealed Rabbani’s claim to have a degrees in law and politics from East London University and international relations from Westminster University were untrue. He studied for just a year at East London before dropping out without any qualifications.

Ms Fell said when he first applied for the post in 2005 the council chose to ignore the fact that he did not have the required housing qualification because they believed he had two degrees. Despite being asked for proof, Rabbani never produced evidence of his degrees, claiming his documents had been destroyed by his wife when they split up.

Rabbani (39) of Outfield, Bretton, Peterborough, admitted obtaining his job by deception and 11 charges of theft totally £17,000 on dates between May and September 2009.

Makkan Shoker, defending, said that although Rabbani did not have the relevant qualifications, he had the ability to do the job and was well-regarded by colleagues.

He said: “Now because of his stupidity and dishonesty he has lost everything. He has lost his job, lost his home, lost his family and lost his new partner. He has also been declared bankrupt.”

Judge Michael Heath told Rabbani “You ought not to have even been in this job. You were in a position of high trust and you breached that trust. This is plainly so serious that the only sentence I can justify is custody.”