Former councillor convicted of benefit fraud
Archived press release
Date Published: 03/06/10
A former Aylesbury Vale district councillor has been found guilty of falsely claiming more than £6,000 in welfare benefits.
On Tuesday 1 June, Stefan Balbuza, of Silverstone Road, Stowe, was sentenced to 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to four counts of benefit fraud.
The 42-year-old had received a total of £6,323 in housing and council tax benefit from May 2007 to September 2009 to which he was not entitled.
Suspicion arose after a sophisticated data matching exercise and an anonymous tip-off to Aylesbury Vale District Council’s benefit fraud investigation team was investigated.
Aylesbury Crown Court heard that Mr Balbuza had failed to declare that he had received his members’ allowance from the district council since he was elected in May 2007. The allowance was paid into a bank account which he had omitted to declare on any housing and council tax benefit application forms.
Mr Balbuza had also failed to tell the council that he had started work at a solicitor’s office in July 2007.
As well as the 100 hour community service order, Mr Balbuza was ordered to pay a compensation order of £4,875.51.
Councillor Neil Blake, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “This prosecution sends a clear message to everyone that Aylesbury Vale District Council will not tolerate benefit fraud of any kind. It is completely unacceptable and we won’t hesitate to investigate, track down and prosecute those who cheat the system. The fact that Mr Balbuza was a district councillor makes, to my mind, this offence even more distasteful. Elected members have a duty to uphold the high standards expected of them and any breach lets down not only the electorate but, also, their fellow councillors.”
Councillor Blake added: “I would like to pay tribute to the council’s investigation and legal teams who work tirelessly to make sure that benefits go to the people who really need them.”
All reports of benefit fraud can be made anonymously and are treated in the strictest confidence. Visit www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk or call 01296 585570.