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Ex-council employee jailed for five years for role in major housing fraud

A former homeless caseworker for the London Borough of Southwark has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for her part in a major housing fraud on the council.

Trudy Ali-Balogun, 55, who worked for Southwark from September 2003 to April 2005, was found guilty of misconduct in a public office.

The case involved 23 fake housing applications, dating back to 2003.

Four applicants, also on trial, were found guilty of obtaining services by deception. They were: Biayo Awotiwon (sentenced to five months in prison); Adeyemi Olalekan Oyedele (sentenced to five months in prison); Kudiartu Falana (suspended sentence for five months); and Joseph Akin Olaiya (suspended sentence for six months).

The four had all made fraudulent applications for homeless housin. Three of them were eventually granted a secure tenancy in Southwark.

They were all assisted by Ali-Balogun, who was the caseworker for 23 cases subsequently discovered to contain fake documentation.

Southwark said she had processed bogus applications which she knew to be false. It also said many of the dishonest applicants processed by Ali-Balogun did not have the necessary immigration status in the UK entitling them to public funds and local authority housing.

A jury found the five defendants guilty in April. They were sentenced at a hearing last week.

Cllr Fiona Colley, Southwark’s cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance, said: "The sentencing concludes a lengthy investigation into fraud and deception at the hands of someone who abused their position of trust for their own selfish gains.

"I’m glad that the penalty reflects the severity of the crimes committed and I hope this send out a clear message about just how seriously we take housing fraud. Southwark’s waiting list is filled with hundreds of people in genuine need of a home. We will continue to cater to these people whilst also bringing those who take advantage of the system to justice."

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