Hare Krishna Priest jailed

Borehamwood Times/July 2, 2003

A former Hare Krishna priest from Radlett has been jailed for two months after claiming more than £9,000 in benefits he was not entitled to.

Jayesh Patel, aged 41, from 7 Willow Way in Radlett, pleaded guilty to seven counts of false accounting, relating to claims he had made for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit between July 1997 and September 2002.

He claimed he has now paid back all the money, but was still sent to jail by Watford Magistrates on Monday.

When he first applied for benefits in 1997, Patel claimed he only had one bank account containing £800.

But the court heard that over the years he held various other bank accounts, including a three-year bond and an ISA account, which contained more than £15,000, and would not have received Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit if he had declared them.

In 2000 he claimed he was working 30 hours per week as a priest, employed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISHCON).

This week an ISHCON spokesman said: "The Bhaktivedanta Manor management team regrets that one of its congregational members acted in a way contrary to Housing Benefit stipulations.

"ISHCON does not condone any action in conflict of the law. We wish to point out that Mr Patel has not been a Hare Krishna priest at the Manor Temple since December 2002."

Patel was found out when Hertsmere Borough Council's verification officer made a routine visit last December.

The officer asked Patel for some identification, which he produced after rummaging through a drawer full of personal papers, including bank books. The officer alerted Hertsmere's fraud team, who interviewed Patel.

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