An Invercargill woman was sentenced yesterday to home detention after she fraudulently claimed more than $75,000 from the Health Ministry for the care of her husband, who had Alzheimer's.
Milagros Sepe Caughey, 60, appeared before Judge John Macdonald in Invercargill District Court yesterday on 85 charges, which included causing a loss to the Health Ministry using carer support claim forms and timesheets for sleepovers. Offending was between October 23, 2007 and July 26, 2010.
Heather Judith Anne McCormack, 53, also appeared for 11 charges of causing loss by deception.
Caughey was sentenced to six months' home detention and 200 hours' community work and McCormack was sentenced to 200 hours' community work.
Yesterday, McCormack's lawyer, Kate McHugh, said she had felt sorry for her friend and her friend's husband. Though her actions were illegal and wrong, she did not know how severe the consequences would be, she said.
Caughey's lawyer, Mike Newell, said she had benefited from the dishonesty, which had gone into the household where she was caring for her husband who had Alzheimer's.
Her understanding of criminality was affected by the fact she was providing the care for which the carer would have been paid. She did not fully appreciate how serious her offending was, he said.
The Health Ministry summary of facts says carer support is a government-funded subsidy designed to pay for a support carer to assist the full-time carer.
Caughey's husband was awarded 156 days' carer support a year.
Since 2007, 50 carer support claim forms were submitted seeking payment for 509.5 days of care provided to him, it says.
Each of the carer support claim forms except one sought a reimbursement to Caughey on the basis that she had already paid the carers from her own funds, the summary says.
These included three carers - two of whom were not charged because one died and the other was from the Philippines and did not understand the situation, it says.
The Health Ministry started an investigation after it suggested the care had not been provided as claimed.
The total amount fraudulently claimed was $77,186.16, the summary says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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