A disgraced lawyer from Ferrybridge who betrayed his clients in a stamp duty swindle has been jailed for 21 months.
Conveyancing solicitor Timothy Rogers ripped off seven home buyers who he had acted as solicitor for by failing to pass on stamp duty tax to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Leeds Crown Court heard Rogers’ victims are still liable to pay the tax, worth a total of £49,860 and are being pursued for the money.
Rogers’ dishonesty came to light after the Land Registry contacted the clients to find out why they hadn’t paid their stamp duty.
The solicitor then embarked on another HMRC deception in order to pay back the sum he owed.
Rogers, 35, who had business premises on Basinghall Street, in Leeds city centre, lied about his business returns in a bid to claim back VAT.
Paul Hodgkinson, prosecuting, said Rogers went from claiming quarterly business figures of £18,000 to £354,000 three months later.
Mr Hodgkinson said the increased claim was made in order to make a VAT repayment request for £79,397.
The prosecutor said the offence was committed in an attempt to pay back the stamp duty to HMRC.
Rogers, of Sandringham Avenue, Ferrybridge, pleaded guilty to two offences of making a false statement with intent to defraud.
Jason Macadam, mitigating, said Rogers set up his firm and began committing the offence in 2010 when his business began to struggle.
The barrister said his client had been working up to 20 hours a day in a bid to keep the firm going and his judgement had been clouded by the stress he was under.
Mr Macadam said Rogers had also suffered from mental health problems. He added that the deception was not carried out to fund a lavish lifestyle, but to keep the business operating to pay staff. The court heard Roger’s firm no longer exists but he had a new job doing legal work.
Jailing Rogers, judge Sally Cahill, QC, said: “You were trying to get money from one part of the revenue to pay the other.
“You were a qualified solicitor and you chose to run a private practice and chose to commit this offence.
“While you may have had mental health difficulties, they are no excuse for this kind of conduct.
“I hope it turns out to be the case that they (the clients) can get their money back from the appropriate insurance companies.”