Woman sentenced for benefit fraud

Last updated 16:30 27/05/2013

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A 50-year-old Balclutha woman, who along with her recently deceased partner defrauded the Government of more than $175,000 over 24 years, was sentenced in the Balclutha District Court today.

Leslie Patricia Tataurangi appeared before Judge Phil Gittos and was sentenced to 12 months' home detention and 400 hours community work for 20 charges relating to benefit fraud.

The court was told Tataurangi was responsible for $163,016.42 and had been paying the money back.

Perry Hill, 57, faced 19 charges also relating to benefit fraud. The court was yesterday told he recently died suddenly. 

The pair admitted the charges in January.

The Ministry of Social Development summary of facts says the total amount lost was $179,081 with the offending occurring between March 1, 1989, and February 12 last year.

The pair were investigated, which established they had been employed for less than a year and had been living together in a relationship in the nature of marriage since March 1989.

Tataurangi was charged with willfully omitting to tell an officer she was living in a relationship in the nature of marriage, willfully omitting to tell an officer she was living with her partner and willfully omitting to tell an officer she was working and in all cases continued to receive benefits. 

She was also guilty of using a document with intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage and with intent to defraud and use a document for the purpose of obtaining a pecuniary advantage between March 1, 1989, and February 12, 2012.

Hill was charged with 19 similar offences.

Tataurangi's lawyer Tina Williams said she had taken responsibility and was paying the money back.

Judge Gittos said her offending impacted on honest beneficiaries. He acknowledged she was generally of good character and entered an early guilty plea.

He also acknowledged the sudden death of Hill.

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- The Southland Times

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