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Landlord returned tenant's deposit with fake notes in it
A HOUSE landlord who returned a tenant’s deposit with counterfeit money in it has walked free from court.
Joseph Mazzotta included the fake money with genuine cash when he handed back the bond after the man moved out.
But the 43-year-old ice cream man, of Beatrice Street, Gorse Hill, was caught after he tried to use one of the dodgy £20 notes at a petrol station.
Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court Mazzotta had gone to Tesco, in Ocotal Way, on February 1 and tried to use the money to buy petrol. But the cashier rejected the note after realising it was not genuine, and the details of the BMW he was driving were passed to the police.
Officers went to his home and found he had £240 in counterfeit £20s, and he was arrested.
He admitted he was the man who tried to use the money at Tesco, but said he had not intended to use it.
The father-of-one told detectives he had bought the fake cash ‘from a man he did not know and had never seen before’, for £5 each taking £55 or £60 worth.
He told them he had been scared to buy it and use it, and had not used any more of it after accidentally trying to pass the note at the supermarket.
But a few days later James Payne, who had rented a property from the defendant, contacted the police.
He said Mazzotta had included three fake £20s in his deposit when he left the property, which the landlord replaced when he confronted him about it.
Police questioned him again and he told them he was shocked when he was first interviewed and could not remember everything clearly.
He accepted his former tenant’s account, but stuck to his story about how he came by the notes even though his brother had been arrested for trying to pass counterfeit cash a few days before.
Mazzotta admitted two counts of passing counterfeit currency and one of possession.
Nick Fridd, defending, said his client was at a loss to explain why he had done it as he did not have financial problems, being a successful ice cream man. He said his client was also the sole carer for his 15-year-old son, who is sitting GCSEs.
Mr Fridd said he had spoken to his client’s sister, who is angry with him and will step in to look after her nephew if he is jailed. He said she blamed his behaviour on losing his mum in 2009, his father the following year, a brother last year and another days after the offences.
Passing sentence Judge Euan Ambrose said: “There is no evidence or suggestion that you were close to the production of the notes.
“There were a relatively small quantity, which would tend to suggest you were some distance from the source.
“It is said on your behalf that it is the most stupid thing you have ever done: that may well be right. You are very remorseful and I accept that remorse is genuine.”
He imposed a 12-month jail term suspended for two years and ordered he carry out 300 hours of community service. The fake money will be destroyed.