A former firefighter who dishonestly obtained more than £54,000 in benefits has been jailed.
Michael Creasey, 55, from Cleveleys, claimed £28,000 of that amount in housing and council tax benefits after falsifying a tenancy agreement and rent book when he was in fact living in a friend’s property free of charge.
Creasey also failed to declare income from working as a doorman at Blackpool gentleman’s bar Sinless at the same time as claiming income support.
His other offending involved him controlling a bank account in the name of a Fleetwood cafe bar and restaurant.
As a result he was overpaid £54,361 in housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support between August 2004 and September 2010, a court heard.
Wyre Council and the Department for Work and Pensions launched a joint investigation into Creasey’s circumstances following a tip-off.
Creasey, of Lincoln Avenue, had pleaded guilty to four counts of benefit fraud, over a six-year period.
Andrew Ford, prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, said the defendant had failed to declare income from an HSBC account, where regular cash was deposited.
Creasey began to lawfully claim income support from September 2004 and that offence began in November of that year.
An associate of his had a venue in Fleetwood – called Additions Cafe Bar and Legends – and the defendant was an old associate with the trade.
Mr Ford said that a substantial bank account in that name was being controlled by Creasey from home and significant amounts of cash were being deposited in it.
Creasey was interviewed in October 2010. The prosecution said he was uncooperative with investigators.
Waheed Omran-Baber, defending, said his client accepted his guilt in full. He asked for mercy from the court.
He said: “If there ever was a case of falling from grace, this would be it.”
For many years Creasey had been a firefighter. After that he started his own successful nightclub business.
But he found himself facing significant problems when he suffered a fall in 2004 that shattered his right knee. Other health difficulties went on to be diagnosed.
Jailing him for a year, Judge Anthony Russell QC ,said: “The public is concerned, and rightly so in my view, about benefit frauds and these were serious benefit frauds.”