A political protester who fraudulently paid $15 million into her bank account has been sentenced to 200 hours' community work.
Hawera woman Kiri Campbell, 32, ripped off Taranaki businesses by almost $65,000 by using cheques from closed bank accounts to pay for cars, furniture and groceries.
She also used a TSB Bank deposit slip for $15m to show she had the funds to honour the cheques.
In the New Plymouth District Court in August, Campbell admitted the four counts of using documents to obtain a pecuniary advantage.
When Campbell first appeared in the Hawera District Court in July she had about 60 supporters, including one who waved an alternative Maori flag and refused to leave the courtroom.
The police summary of facts said in July Campbell wrote a cheque worth $15m from her National Bank account, which had been closed two years earlier.
She took the cheque to the TSB Bank in Hawera where the teller accepted the cheque and stamped and dated her deposit book.
The TSB later realised the cheque was fraudulent and closed her bank accounts.
Yesterday TSB Bank chief executive Kevin Murphy said the bank had not been affected in any material sense and was not involved in the court proceedings.
It is understood Campbell's $15m cheque deposit was backed up by a large amount of paperwork.
Among the victims Campbell gave bad cheques were Egmont Autos in Hawera ($14,990), Pak'n Save in Hawera ($421.85), Colton's Motor Vehicle Company in Hawera ($32,990), Dimocks 100% Electrical Store ($3019.96) and R J Eagar in Stratford, $22,338.
The owner of Egmont Autos had been selling a car on behalf of another person and deposited the full amount into their bank account from his own personal account.
Some of the items were recovered, or delivery was cancelled when her cheques bounced, but some were damaged and others were not found.
Lawyer Paul Keegan said Campbell had "very strong political and social beliefs" which she had been addressing through her actions.
Campbell is part of the One Peoples' Public Trust who see themselves as "Freemen on the land", and believe individuals have to agree to be subject to government and statute law and are otherwise only held to their own version of common law. They see the banking system as corrupt.
The movement began in the United States in the 1970s and spread to Europe.
The FBI's website shows "Freemen" or "sovereign citizens" are considered a domestic terrorist movement in the US.
Following her cheque spree, Campbell has a burgeoning social media following and and has gained significant international attention online.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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