Couple charged with benefit fraud after being caught living together

Murray was arrested, when he was stopped while driving and found to have a "small amount" of methamphetamine in his ...
FAIRFAX

Murray was arrested, when he was stopped while driving and found to have a "small amount" of methamphetamine in his vehicle on October 27, 2014.

A Stratford couple have been charged with benefit fraud after government officials caught them living together.

During his appearance in the Hawera District Court on Tuesday, Rongomai-Whiti Jon Wayne Wahia, 25, pleadedĀ  guilty to three charges of obtains by deception and seven charges of dishonestly using a document.

The summary of facts, prepared by Ministry of Social Development (MSD) investigator Max Brooking, said that Wahia received a domestic purposes benefit between October 2007 and July 2013 and a sole parent support benefit from July 2013 to December 2014.

As part of the application process Wahia was meant to advise MSD of any changes to his circumstances or if he was living with a partner.

During the same time Wahia also claimed an accommodation supplement and other temporary financial support.

Following a MSD investigation it was established Wahia had been living with his partner Shannon Trishna Lorraine Wetini, 32, on and off between April 2010 and January 2014.

She is also facing 10 charges.

The pair have three children together.

As a result of the benefit fraud, a series of overpayments were made to Wahia totalling $49,656.90. However, MSD will only seek $23,391.41 in reparation atĀ  sentencing. This amount reflects the "actual loss to the taxpayer," the summary of facts said.

Judge John Macdonald remanded Wahia on bail to re-appear for sentence on November 9.

Wetini was remanded on bail to re-appear in the Hawera District Court on October 6. She has yet to plead to the charges.

 - Taranaki Daily News

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