Fraud­u­lent beg­gar back on street

The Hastings Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MARTY SHARPE

A beg­gar con­victed of fraud be­cause he was hold­ing a sign ask­ing for money for ‘‘food and shel­ter’’ is out of prison and back on the streets with the same sign and says he has no plans to stop.

Th­ese days Frank Lovich, 53, can be found sit­ting in cen­tral Napier hold­ing his card­board sign seek­ing do­na­tions.

He is one of five Napier beg­gars fac­ing charges of so­lic­it­ing for money or breach­ing city by­laws.

Lovich, who has more than 300 low-level crim­i­nal con­vic­tions, has amassed five charges of so­lic­it­ing for money since be­ing re­leased from prison about a month ago.

While Lovich is yet to en­ter a plea, the other beg­gars in­tend to de­fend the charges.

Lovich claimed he had to beg be­cause Work and In­come had de­layed start­ing a ben­e­fit and he could not find a job.

‘‘I won’t get a job with my back­ground, full stop. I’ve spent 35 years in jail. As soon as em­ploy­ers find out I’ve been in jail it’s over. They don’t even give you a chance,’’ he said.

‘‘The sys­tem’s failed me big time,’’ he said.

He said that once he got his ben­e­fit pay­ment he may find a place to live, but may con­tinue beg­ging.

He said he earned ‘‘some­thing like’’ $50 a day beg­ging in Napier: ’’Not much, but it’s enough to keep me go­ing for food’’.

The prospect of re­turn­ing to jail didn’t bother him.

‘‘It’s like home,’’ he said. In Fe­bru­ary Lovich pleaded guilty to a raft of charges re­lated to beg­ging, in­clud­ing fraud.

Po­lice laid the fraud charge be­cause he was beg­ging with a sign say­ing he needed money for food and shel­ter but he was paid a ben­e­fit of $380 a week and had a home in Hast­ings.

The Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment could not dis­cuss de­tails of Lovich’s case but Re­gional Com­mis­sioner East Coast, An­nie Aranui, said the min­istry worked with all peo­ple ap­ply­ing for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to as­sess their cor­rect en­ti­tle­ments.

Sergeant Nigel Hur­ley of the Hawke’s Bay com­mu­nity polic­ing team said a num­ber of peo­ple in Napier had con­tin­ued to beg af­ter be­ing asked to stop and warned by po­lice.

‘‘The first step is al­ways to fairly in­form peo­ple that it is il­le­gal to be in Napier. Fol­low­ing the warnings, some of th­ese men have con­tin­ued to ask for money and now been charged with this of­fence,’’ he said.

He said po­lice are work­ing closely with a num­ber of agen­cies and in­di­vid­u­als to pro­vide sup­port and as­sis­tance to th­ese peo­ple.

‘‘The most ef­fec­tive way for mem­bers of the pub­lic to as­sist th­ese vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple is to firstly, not give them money, as they may use this to pur­chase drugs and not food or drink,’’ Hur­ley said.

‘‘Many peo­ple and agen­cies are pro­vid­ing them with food and drink al­ready through­out the day.

‘‘Se­condly, if you wish to give money, it is a bet­ter idea to do­nate it to one of the ser­vices help­ing them,’’ he said.

Frank Lovich back beg­ging in cen­tral Napier af­ter his re­lease from prison. He says he gets about $50 a day.

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