Benefit fraud earns Taranaki man community work sentence
A Hawera man who continued claiming a benefit while working fulltime has been ordered to repay nearly $8000.
Ronnie Nika Tuhoe, 44, a process worker, began receiving an unemployment benefit on June 2014 and continued to get payments until September 21, 2015, when data matching between the Ministry of Social Development and Inland revenue alerted the department that he was employed.
Further inquiries revealed Tuhoe had started working on December 1, 2014, receiving a benefit he was not entitled to for nine and a half months, said counsel for the Ministry of Social Development, Michele Riordan.
The defendant had since made arrangements to repay this debt but because his total debt to the department was over $18,000, the payments had not yet begun to reduce the new debt.
The defendant had been convicted for a similar offence in 1997 and had received several warnings on other occasions.
She suggested the judge consider a community work sentence with "a hefty amount of hours" as a deterrent for Tuhoe.
Defence counsel Turitea Bolstad said her client offered no excuses and was ready to take full responsibility for his actions.
"Mr Tuhoe, you are no stranger to this court and these offences of dishonesty," Judge Chris Sygrove said.
He sentenced him to 150 hours of community work and warned him that failing to carry out the sentence would see him brought back before the court.