Gran jailed for fraud

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By FLORENCE KERR

A 65-year-old Toko­roa grand­mother has been sen­tenced to 20 months im­pris­on­ment af­ter ear­lier ad­mit­ting ben­e­fit fraud of more then $140,000.

The case is thought to be biggest of its kind to ap­pear be­fore the Toko­roa District Court.

Ali­cia Martha Kalotau ap­peared be­fore Judge Christo­pher McGuire last week on 19 charges of us­ing a doc­u­ment for pe­cu­niary ad­van­tage and one charge of wil­ful omis­sion.

The of­fend­ing oc­curred be­tween Fe­bru­ary 1999 to Novem­ber 2009.

Kalotau, who had re­ceived the do­mes­tic pur­poses ben­e­fit (DPB) and in­valid’s ben­e­fit from Work and In­come New Zealand, failed to tell her case man­ager that she was mar­ried and liv­ing with her part­ner of al­most 14 years.

Kalotau’s hus­band Gor­don Rhind was charged and con­victed for his part in the fraud and sen­tenced last week to 80 hours’ com­mu­nity work.

Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment pub­lic af­fairs man­ager Bronwyn Saun­ders said she was pleased with the sen­tence handed down to Kalotau.

‘‘ Ms Kalotau know­ingly lied about her cir­cum­stances and did so for a pro­longed pe­riod of time.

‘‘I am pleased she has been held to ac­count for her of­fend­ing and sen­tenced ac­cord­ingly.

‘‘This sends a strong mes­sage to all New Zealand tax­pay­ers, that we will con­tinue to sup­port those hon­est peo­ple who gen­uinely need our help, by catch­ing the cheats.’’

Ms Saun­ders said crime did not pay. ‘‘Ms Kalotau and her fam­ily are now pay­ing the price for this fraud.’’

Kalotau was caught af­ter the min­istry re­ceived a tip-off from the pub­lic in Oc­to­ber 2009.

Kalotau was in­ter­viewed by an in­ves­ti­ga­tor in Novem­ber 2009 and im­me­di­ately ad­mit­ted her of­fend­ing.

While re­ceiv­ing the DPB Kalotau also ob­tained from Work and In­come New Zealand an ac­com­mo­da­tion sup­ple­ment, spe­cial ben­e­fit and a dis­abil­ity al­lowance. In 2003 she was trans­ferred to the in­valid’s ben­e­fit and also re­ceived a dis­abil­ity al­lowance, ac­com­mo­da­tion sup­ple­ment and tem­po­rary ad­di­tional sup­port.

Kalotau suf­fers from a mus­cu­los­ke­tal sys­tem dis­or­der.

The to­tal amount of Kalotau’s of­fend­ing came to $146,835.44.

Kalotau’s of­fend­ing be­gan in Auck­land, she then moved to Ro­torua be­fore she set­tled in Toko­roa.

Kalotau is mak­ing weekly pay­ments to re­pay the debt.

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