A Balclutha couple yesterday admitted benefit fraud which had
seen them wrongly paid nearly $180,000 over 23 years.
Leslie Patricia Tataurangi (50) and Perry Hill (57) appeared
together before Judge Roy Wade in the Balclutha District
Court sitting in Gore, with Tataurangi admitting 20 charges
and Hill 19 of benefit fraud, which the Ministry of Social
Development said totalled $179,081.01.
The ministry's summary of facts said the offending occurred
between March 1, 1989, and February 12 last year.
Inquiries conducted by the ministry established Tataurangi
and Perry had been employed by Silver Fern Farms Ltd for less
than a year and had been living in a relationship in the
nature of marriage from March 1, 1989.
The ministry said the pair were each aware of each other's
status as a beneficiary, and failed to inform the ministry
they were living together as a couple. Tataurangi had
completed several benefit application forms for Work and
Income (Winz) and on each had said she was single or did not
have a partner.
Hill had done the same. Tataurangi told the ministry she was
aware of her obligations but had not advised the ministry of
her employment because she needed more money to pay her
bills. When asked why she had not advised the ministry of her
de facto relationship with Hill, she said the money she
received was not enough.
In her interview with ministry staff, she apologised for her
selfishness in taking the extra money.
Hill said he was aware of his obligations but had not advised
of his employment as the Government was taking tax off him
and giving it to the unemployed. He said he did not advise of
his de facto relationship because the couple would have got
Tataurangi was charged with eight counts of wilfully omitting
to tell an officer she was living in a relationship in the
nature of marriage or with her partner, one of wilfully
omitting to tell an officer she was working and in all cases
continued to receive benefits, nine counts of using a
document with intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage and two
counts of using a document capable of being used to obtain a
pecuniary advantage for the purpose of obtaining a pecuniary
advantage with intent to defraud.
Hill was charged with 13 counts of wilfully omitting to tell
an officer he was living in a relationship in the nature of
marriage or with his partner and continuing to receive
benefits, one of omitting to tell an officer he was working
and continuing to receive benefits, and five counts of using
a document with intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage.
Judge Wade convicted the pair, and remanded them on bail to
March 4 for sentencing.