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Womans sentenced to home detention for $36K benefit fraud

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 03 June 2016 - 04:49 PM

Taranaki woman sentenced to home detention for $36K benefit fraud


Last updated 16:59, May 12 2016

A woman stole more than $36,000 from the taxpayer after she lied about being single for two years.

The New Plymouth District Court heard that when Waitara's Jordan Skye Raumati signed up for the sole parent benefit in 2013, she told Work and Income staff she was not in a relationship.

This was not true and for the next two years, Raumati maintained the lie and as a result was given $36,564.99 in welfare payments she was not entitled to get.

A Ministry of Social Development (MSD) investigation last year uncovered Raumati, a mother-of-two, had lived with her partner for the whole time.

The 26-year-old started paying back the debt in December at $50 a week and had paid $850 so far. However, at that set rate it will take Raumati about 13 years to pay the money back.

Raumati pleaded guilty to one charge of obtains by deception and nine of dishonestly using a document at an earlier appearance.

During Thursday's sentencing, Raumati's lawyer Jo Woodcock asked the judge to step back from home detention, which was sought by both MSD and the Probation service.

Woodcock said a community detention sentence, coupled with community work, would be just as restrictive but would allow Raumati to take her 3-year-old to kohanga reo and make sure she could get urgent medical care for her children if she needed it. Along with her pre-schooler, Raumati also has a six-month-old baby.

But Judge Chris Sygrove said these requirements could be factored into a home detention sentence.

"This is a criminal court dealing with quite a serious fraudster. It's not about a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket," he said.

In response, Woodcock said her client was aware of the seriousness of the offending and had made full admissions to the MSD investigator.

"She didn't try and shy away from what she has done," Woodcock said.

Sygrove said between October 2013 and September 2015 Raumati made 12 false declarations about her relationship status and got funds she should not have received.

However, he accepted she was remorseful and had committed herself to paying the money back.

The judge calculated an end sentence of six months jail, which he transferred into three months home detention.

He also ordered Raumati to complete 80 hours of community work.

- Stuff

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