A CONMAN who swindled hoteliers around the country out of more than £5,000 was sent to prison for 15 months last week at Hove Crown Court.
Jonathan Richman, from Hertfordshire, was convicted of 10 charges of obtaining services by deception between April and November 1993, and asked the court for another 13 cases to be taken into consideration.
An accomplice, Lindsay Hutcheson, was found guilty on four of the charges and placed on probation for two years. The judge also ordered Hutcheson to pay £354 in compensation.
Some of the cases came to light following a request by Sussex police for help from Caterer's readers last November.
The deception generally involved Richman phoning in advance to book a room for a friend or relative. He would then quote a genuine credit card number (not his own)and ask for all expenses incurred to be charged to the card.
A similar scam was used on a number of restaurants and bars, including L'Escargot and The Square in London and Borsalino in Hove.
The hotels Richman targeted included the Imperial and Lawns in Hove, theLangham Hilton and Stafford in London, South Lodgein West Sussex, the Piccadilly in Manchester, Hanbury Manor in Hertfordshire and Hartwell House in Buckinghamshire.
As Caterer went to press, Richman was given a further three months in prison by London's Horseferry Magistrates Court in connection with an unpaid bill of £1,600 incurred at the Hyde Park Hotel.