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Jail for Brierfield legal aid fraudster
A FATHER who used his daughter to carry out a £250,000 legal aid scam has been jailed for eight and a half years.
Mohammed Khatana, 51 and his daughter Mahria Khatana, 24, both of Hawkswood Gardens, Brierfield, were arrested following a three-year investigation by organised crime officers.
Mohammed Khatana pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to 15 counts of fraud and Mahria Khatana pleaded guilty to four counts. He has been described as a ‘ruthless serial fraudster’.
He had set up a business, known as POCA Consulting to help people facing proceeds of crime hearings.
Detective Superintendent Jason Hudson said: “Khatana was a ruthless serial fraudster who was prepared to use his daughter to steal from a wide range of individuals for his own gain.
“We worked closely with the Legal Services Commission in identifying and stopping Khatana's abuse of the legal aid system."
Mohammed Khatana also faced sentencing for 15 charges of fraud. Those charges including making false representations to the Legal Services Commission.
His daughter was given 12 months prison, suspended for 18 months, with supervision and an order to carry out 250 hours unpaid work.
The charges covered various periods, starting in December 2008. Some related to dates last year.
The court heard that Mahria Khatana was said to have felt ‘cultural and emotional pressure’ to do what her father wanted. But the judge was told that she was brought to her senses when arrested and no longer wanted anything to do with him.
Judge Graham Knowles QC said he was satisfied that the father's plan, from the beginning, was that the business would be a vehicle for fraud, in the sense of inflated invoices and invoices for services rendered gratuitously.
He had also hoped to attract business from criminals looking to hide their assets.
The judge said: “You are a determined and persistent and versatile professional criminal. What you did was intended to undermine the whole proces."