Former Uriah Heep singer guilty of fraud

Nov. 11, 2005 at 8:13 PM

NAPSBURY, England, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- A former lead singer for British prog-rockers Uriah Heep claimed "hard times" forced him to illegally seek council tax benefits.

John Lawton -- the Ronnie James Dio-like vocalist for Uriah Heep from 1976-1979 -- and his wife, Iris, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud for hiding about $87,000 in savings to get about $2,000 in low income benefits from the St. Albans District Council, the Herts Advertiser reported.

The 59-year-old former rock star sporting a bright yellow mullet, told the St. Albans Magistrate Court in Napsbury, England, that failing health recently forced him to quit touring with The John Lawton Band and he and his family had "fallen on hard times," the newspaper said.

The court was told the Lawtons had repaid the money to the council and they were fined about $1,700 each plus court costs -- which they paid for with a credit card.

Lawton made three albums with Uriah Heep -- "Firefly," "Innocent Victim" and "Fallen Angel."

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