ACC cheat fleeced $200,000

By Sandra Conchie

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A former Tauranga man who defrauded ACC of more than $200,000 over more than three years to help buy two homes for his children has been jailed for three years.

Rocklin (Rocky) Stewart Cuthbert, 65, who earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of obtaining by deception and two charges of dishonestly using a document, was sentenced in Tauranga District Court yesterday.

Between August 2007 and March 14, 2011, Cuthbert submitted numerous medical certificates from different doctors claiming $208,746.19 worth of ACC payments while he was working.

He also made additional claims under an assumed name.

The summary of facts revealed that in May 1979 Cuthbert suffered a right-hip injury from a fall while self-employed as a forestry contractor.

He subsequently lodged a claim for ACC in May 1983 and began receiving weekly compensation payments.

In November 2010, ACC began an investigation after the corporation became aware that Cuthbert had began working as a truck driver in Taupo in August 2007 under the name Rocky Wall and using a different IRD number.

He worked for the trucking firm for seven months and used the same ploy when he worked for another trucking firm for two weeks in March 2008, and did likewise when he worked for a third trucking company between April 2008 and December 2010.

During his later employment, Cuthbert also wrenched his right shoulder and then suffered a back injury, and using the name Rocky Wall he obtained medical certificates from different GPs and lodged further claims. When interviewed in February 10, 2011, he admitted he knew what he was doing was wrong, but was experiencing financial difficulties.

Crown prosecutor Rob Ronayne told Judge Christopher Harding that it was clear from the pre-sentence report that Cuthbert had little insight into the gravity of his offending and he showed limited remorse.

The fact he had admitted he stole the money to help buy homes as a financial investment for him and his children showed his offending was motivated by greed, he said.

Cuthbert's lawyer, Olivia Brittain, who argued for a sentence of home detention, said her client rejected the suggestions he had limited insight into his offending and wasn't remorseful.

Cuthbert, who had over-committed himself financially, had accepted responsibility for this offending and offered to pay ACC back at $300 a week from his wages, she said.

Judge Harding told Cuthbert that nothing other than prison would be appropriate given the scale of his offending and his past conviction in 2003 for similar type offending.

"This was a longstanding, deliberate and premeditated fraud carried through a misguided sense of entitlement, and you were prepared to steal from taxpayers to bring about financial security for yourself and your family.

"You now accept it was absolutely wrong to have done so."

Judge Harding ordered Cuthbert to pay $3000 reparation within 28 days, which was the amount of savings he had in his bank account - an amount the Crown had argued was just part of the fraud.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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