Businessman jailed for Leeds charity clothing scam

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A callous businessman has been jailed for 21 months after a judge heard he dishonestly sold on clothing from bags put out for charities.

Lithuanian Eligijus Baljanas supplied second hand clothing to markets in Eastern Europe but last year police discovered stolen charity bags both at his home and in a container at the premises he used for storage on the Seckar Wood Industrial Estate in Wakefield.

Alisdair Campbell prosecuting said after Baljonas moved into his address in Woodlands Drive, East Ardsley, witnesses noticed what they believed were charity bags being deliver there at different hours.

As a result in July last year police executed a search warrant at the address and found a number of such bags.

He maintained he put out his own bags and leaflets for his business Clothes Home Ltd, requesting second hand items, which were collected by his drivers who might have legitimate access to such bags if given them as overfill.

Police executed a second search warrant on August 18 at the industrial estate where he had 10 containers and one was found to be between one third and a half full with 595 bags belonging to various charities.

Witnesses working nearby said Baljanas was hands on when drivers arrived with deliveries of sacks, checking the quality of clothes and weighing them.

Mr Campbell said it was not possible to say all the 595 bags were stolen but Baljanas accepted at least 50 were.

Baljanas, 29, admitted handling stolen goods. Jailing him Judge Christopher Batty said he was well aware of the dishonesty involved since in 2008 when a driver Baljonas was cautioned for “scooping up charity bags” left out by members of the public.

“Those charities have been experiencing difficult times from around that period, which was really the onset of the recession. Donations of such clothing is very important to each charity who use it as a source of income.”

But the judge said rather than take his warning and trade only in legitimate second hand clothing “what those working for you used to do was scoop up anything and everything including charity bags.”

Since he checked and weighed the clothing he was “only too well aware of what was passing through your business.”

The judge said instead of rejecting the charity bags “you weighed them in and you sold them for profit taking the money away from their intended destination and to line your own pockets.”

“You have only yourself to blame, you could have carried on your business if you had only been honest.”

Shia Whitehead representing Baljonas said he would lose everything if jailed.

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