Faked letter lands Blue Badge applicant in court

escc logoAN Eastbourne man who faked a medical letter to support a Blue Badge application has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Riccardo Gresta was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, when he appeared at Hove Crown Court after pleading guilty two counts of fraud at an earlier hearing.

The 45-year-old, from Elms Avenue, had submitted a letter from a neurologist to support his application to East Sussex County Council for a Blue Badge.

But the council launched an investigation after they noticed obvious grammatical errors in the letter, which claimed that Gresta was unable to walk more than 20 metres. When contacted, the hospital involved confirmed the letter had not come from them.

When interviewed by East Sussex County Council’s investigations officer, Gresta denied he had produced the letter, and even made a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsmen.

Sentencing on Thursday, December 22, Recorder Mercer told Gresta: “What you did was look at a genuine letter from a neurologist which was a letter from a Mr. Anderson.  You used that letter to cut and paste a different letter purporting to be from an Angus Anderson.

“It was not immediately obvious that the letter was a forgery, but the local authority are used to fraudulent claims and looked at it carefully.”

He added that the custodial sentence should make it clear that people who commit Blue Badge fraud will go to prison.

A spokesperson for East Sussex County Council said: “This conviction is the result of the hard work and dedication of our Blue Badge team and should act as a deterrent to anyone thinking they can use false information or documents to get a Blue Badge.

“We will not tolerate any kind of fraudulent activity – if you genuinely need a Blue Badge and meet the nationally-set criteria, there is absolutely no need to lie.”

The 12-month suspended sentence given to Gresta includes a six-week curfew requirement meaning he must be at home between the hours of 8pm and 8am.  No order for costs was made.