Jail for benefit scam

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 08:08 19/12/2012

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A Palmerston North woman who ‘‘systematically plundered’’ Government assistance schemes for personal gain has been jailed for wrongly claiming more than $100,000 of taxpayer money.

Naomi Marie Roberts, 38, was yesterday sentenced to 13 months in prison on four charges of dishonestly using a document.

Between August 2003 and May 2010, she wrongly claimed $73,822 domestic purposes benefit, accommodation supplement and training incentive allowance money from Work and Income.

When she filled out benefit entitlement forms she failed to declare she was living with her partner and received her benefit at the more lucrative single person’s rate.

‘‘You’ve taken from the taxpayers,’’ Judge Grant Fraser told Roberts in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday.

Taxpayer money is provided for benefits for people who are in difficulty and as a backup. The fact that you’ve taken this money means you have offended against taxpayers.’’

The judge said Roberts had met Work and Income staff many times over the years yet never declared her relationship.

‘‘I describe you as someone who has systematically plundered the benefit system for a huge amount of money.’’

Roberts has previously been sentenced to five months’ home detention for wrongly claiming about $37,000 from Housing New Zealand, also for failing to declare her hrelationship.

On top of that, Roberts had received a separate three-month home detention sentence for defrauding $19,000 from the Ministry of Health.

She forged the signatures of nine care workers for work they had not done with her special needs child.

Roberts then pocketed the money.

Her latest pre-sentence report, however, says Roberts is motivated to change.

Defence lawyer Mike Ryan said she would take a ‘‘fresh approach to life’’ when released from prison.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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