3:26pm Monday 27th February 2012
By Matt Watts
A care home manager has been jailed after cheating the taxpayer out of nearly £50,000.
Tebata Lutwama – known as Teddy – 42, of Brabazon Avenue, Wallington, was in charge of Chatsworth Care home in Worcester Park, when she was caught in July 2010.
She had worked at the home since 2003 but told Sutton Council and the Department for Work and Pensions she was unemployed.
Over a seven year period she fraudulently claimed £23,778 in income support, £20,367 in housing benefit and £3,942 in council tax benefit, a total of £48,087.
At Croydon Crown Court on February 20, she was given a 16 week jail sentence and ordered to repay the money she fraudulently claimed. Lutwama was caught out following a joint investigation led by Sutton Council, who worked with the Department for Work and Pensions to bring her to justice.
She initially pleaded not guilty to all charges but changed her plea at a later hearing.
Councillor John Drage, Sutton Council's Executive member for Finance and Efficiency, said: "We have a policy of zero tolerance on benefit fraud and we take all necessary steps to ensure that people who deliberately seek to defraud the taxpayer are uncovered and brought before the courts.
"The sentence handed down by the court reflects the severity of Ms Lutwama’s crime, at a time when every penny of taxpayers’ money matters. The council will do all it can to make sure this money is reclaimed."
Lutwama's conviction is not the first time a member of staff at Chatsworth has been convicted of benefit fraud.
Mum-of-seven Denise Cooper was given an eight month suspended prison sentence, after claiming a total of £28,625 in housing and council tax benefit between August 2009 and October 2010, when she was earning £1,000 a month working for Chatsworth Care.
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