Woodford Green fraud woman’s sentence ‘too lenient’
PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 November 2010
THE “LENIENT” sentence of a woman who “isolated” members of the Roma community as part of a £2.9million benefits fraud has been blasted by the chief executive of a refugee and migrant forum.
Rita Chadha has called the actions of jailed Lavinia Olmazu “totally inappropriate”, adding she targeted a “very vulnerable community”.
Gipsy rights campaigner Olmazu, 31, of Newlands Road, Woodford Green, was jailed for two years and three months on Monday after helping fellow Romanians make hundreds of illegal claims for state benefits.
Ms Chadha, of RAMFEL (Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London), which has an office in the Cardinal Heenan Centre, High Road, Ilford, said: “One of the things she did was she isolated the community.
“She told a lot of her clients not to go to other agencies like the council and the PCT.
“She operated by saying everyone else was against them and she was the only person they could trust.”
And hitting out at the sentence handed down by judge Deborah Taylor, Ms Chadha called for Olmazu to be kept in prison for 10 years.
Instead Olmazu will be eligible for release in about nine months because she has already served 248 days in custody on remand.
The mum-of-one was sentenced together with her husband Alin Enachi, 29, who was jailed for two years and eight months at an earlier hearing.
Ms Chadha added: “I think the number of lies she told cast a big shadow over some people’s future.
“When the clients ran into trouble, they ran back to us. We had to pick up about 20 to 30 people and there are some we are still working with.
“This is very much isolated. There are not enough agencies working with the Roma community, which is one of the problems.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ilford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.