A former chairman of a charity that aims to relieve poverty in the Northamptonshire Somali community has been sentenced today to two years and three months in prison after he admitted stealing £105,000 from the organisation.
Hasan Jama, aged 38, of Austin Street, Northampton, abused his position as a trustee of the Northamptonshire Somali Forum to steal money received from organisations such as Northamptonshire County Council, Big Lottery Fund, and Northamptonshire Community Foundation.
Northampton Crown Court heard Jama was chairman of the forum from 2004 to 2011 and used the stolen cash to fund his own lifestyle, including buying a car and a house in Northampton.
James Thomas, prosecuting, said during some, but not all, of this period Jama was claiming benefits including Job Seekers’ Allowance.
The court heard in October 2006 Jama obtained a £39,000 bank loan to help fund the purchase of a house after he falsely claimed he was employed by the Somali forum and paid £20,000 a year.
The court heard Jama stole more than half of the charity’s £205,000 income from 2004 to 2011 by making cheque and cash payments to his own personal accounts.
Jama’s deception was not uncovered during this period as he was in charge of putting together the spreadsheets the charity’s annual accounts were based on.
Police began investigating Jama after a tip-off and they uncovered the fact Jama had abused his position of trust to court MPs, councillors and other organisations to obtain money under the guise of providing much-needed support to the Somali community.
The charity’ stated aims are to relieve poverty, especially amongst people of Somali origin, through advice, counselling, education and other support services.
His Honour Judge Fowler said Jama had taken advantage of his position to “line his own pockets”.
He sentenced Jama, who pleaded guilty to theft, to two years and three months in jail. He is likely to serve half his sentence in jail before being released on licence.
The court heard Jama had not paid any of the £105,000 back to the Somali Forum, despite the fact he had made a £24,000 profit on the house he bought with the bank loan obtained by deception.
Bryan Pye, who was involved in the inquiry, said: “This investigation began when a number of individuals expressed concerns about Mr Jama’s activities. Thanks to the support of the Somali community we were able to successfully investigate Mr Jama’s illegal activities and have been able to achieve a successful result at court.
“Our officers will continue to work tirelessly to investigate such crimes and in this case we will strive to recover money and assets from Mr Jama through the Proceeds of Crime Act.”