A television star who helped expose cheats and fraudsters for a popular BBC consumer show has been jailed for 12 weeks for dishonestly claiming more than £24,000 in benefits.
Dan Penteado, who appeared in the show Rogue Traders, admitted claiming council tax and housing benefits over four years last month.
Penteado, 40, who lives in the leafy Bournemouth suburb of Westbourne, was caught after an alert council officer recognised the man claiming benefits as a television presenter.
He admitted eight offences of claiming benefits during a period when he earned more than £55,000 from the BBC.
He began featuring in Rogue Traders in 2001. He and his co-presenter Matt Allwright customarily travelled around on a motorcycle, sporting biker leathers, on a mission to expose unscrupulous businesses.
By 2007 Penteado had left the programme and was a student at Bournemouth University and was eligible for benefits. His solicitor, Terrence Scanlan, told Bournemouth magistrates that in March 2008 the BBC contacted him and invited him to return to the programme.
Scanlan said: “He had a series of short-term contracts. There was no continuous employment – a few days every month. It was this uncertainty of work that fed into his decision not to interrupt the flow of benefit – that was very poor judgment by him. This was not a man who was living extravagantly. He and his family were living quite frugally.”
Scanlan said Penteado, who is married and has two nine-year-old twins, had always worked hard to improve life for himself and his family. But he had been “sinking in debt” and owed £20,000. The lawyer said he had now “lost his burgeoning career in broadcasting and that itself is quite a punishment for him”.
The chairman of the bench John Corben told Penteado: “This is not a victimless crime. It is actually a crime of stealing from the public purse.
“It was planned over four years and it was calculated and we consider it so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate. You knew exactly what you were doing.”
Penteado, who was dressed in a black jumper, black trousers, black tie and white shirt was escorted to the cells by two security guards.
Outside court, Councillor David Smith, from Bournemouth borough council, said: “The amount of money stolen in this case is truly shocking. We are pleased that Mr Penteado has now been successfully prosecuted and brought to justice.
“The council will not tolerate benefit fraud and will always take action to ensure public funds are protected from abuse and available to support the most vulnerable in society.”
The BBC has said that Penteado is not currently under contract with the corporation. A spokesman said: “In light of the prosecution, Dan Penteado will not be returning to Rogue Traders.”
Penteado arrived in court on the back of a motorcycle in his trademark leathers and crash helmet, ensuring his face was not caught by photographers.
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