Greenwich Councillor Tonia Ashikodi has been found guilty of two counts of fraud by false representation at Inner London Crown Court on Wednesday.
It took the jury took just around one hour of deliberations to come to their verdict, the Councillor who applied for and lived in council housing while she owned three other properties was been found guilty of fraud.
Cllr Ashikodi, who represents Greenwich’s Glyndon ward for the Labour Party, was accused of applying for and accepting a council home while owning three homes herself – two in Thamesmead and one in Charlton.
The legal team for the Councillor claimed he had been holding the homes in trust for her father, Tony Ashikodi, who was receiving rent and paying the bills on the properties.
However, a jury of four men and eight women disagreed and found the councillor guilty on two counts of fraud by false representation following a short period of deliberation.
As the verdict was read out, Cllr Ashikodi remained silent. Addressing the Councillor following the finding, Judge Benedict Kelleher said: “these are serious matters”.
Adding that he would be considering “all sentencing options” when the matter is due to return to court on the 4th of March 2020, meaning the politician could be facing prison for the offences committed.
Cllr Ashikodi had been on unconditional bail throughout the trial.
The verdict comes following a 2018 investigation by Greenwich Council’s internal anti-fraud team in connection with the “ownership of a number of properties” by the councillor.
She was subsequently suspended by the Labour party but has remained on the council since being charged.
Following the verdict, Greenwich Council’s chief executive, Debbie Warren, issued the following statement: “We welcome the jury’s verdict today. The conversations we had with Cllr Ashikodi and her father, along with the evidence we were presented with at the time, led us to believe that there was a case to answer. Our decision to prosecute was taken in good faith following legal advice and I would like to thank the council staff who took to the witness stand to present our case – the unanimous decision shows that their evidence was accepted by the jury as a truthful reflection of events.
“We also should not forget why we had to prosecute. There are 20,000 residents on our housing waiting list and more than 1,000 households in temporary accommodation. Cllr Ashikodi would have known this as a councillor elected to represent the interests of our residents. The jury has found that she lied in her application for council housing and also when she signed her tenancy agreement. As well as breaking the law, she denied someone with a genuine need for a secure home.”
“I would like to reiterate that our anti-fraud team operates autonomously from the rest of the Council. Officers receive information and investigate without any political involvement and this case was handled in exactly the same way as any other case – we will continue to prosecute where there is evidence of fraud against the council.”
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This content was sourced from Unity News Network.