Fraudster gets credit for arts work
An active figure in the Palmerston North arts scene has been sentenced on four benefit fraud charges, after failing to admit she was claiming the wrong kind of support.
She was eventually found out, and by that time had swindled $77,000.
Karen Newton, who is known for her choreography work for various arts productions and volunteering to help organise shows, was in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday to be sentenced on the four charges.
In January 2008 she had applied for benefits through Work and Income, on the basis that her son was going to live with her.
However, she soon heard he was going to stay with family in Australia.
She failed to inform Work and Income that was the case and continued to claim the domestic purposes benefit and an accommodation supplement.
Judge David Smith said that if Newton had been on an unemployment benefit at the time - which she was entitled to claim - she would have been paid the sum of $52,000.
Being on a benefit had a sense of trust around it - something she had breached, he said.
"You could not face up, even though you knew what you were doing was wrong."
Judge Smith said he would discount Newton's sentence for the large amount of volunteer work she did, and because she had never offended before.
He sentenced her to six months' community detention and 150 hours' community work.