A Hamilton woman who received sole parent benefit payments totalling nearly $93,000 did so by hiding the fact that she was still living with her husband.
Mia Jeanette Horne was yesterday sentenced to six months in prison after earlier pleading guilty in the Hamilton District Court to 28 charges of dishonestly using a document.
She also faced a further three charges of obtaining by deception and two of using a document for pecuniary advantage.
A summary of facts revealed the 53-year-old was granted a domestic purposes sole parent's benefit in 2003.
She agreed to tell the Ministry of Social Development of any changes to her circumstances that may affect her benefit entitlement.
But within five months she was back living with her husband of 26 years.
Horne spent the next eight years trying to hide this, altering forms about her personal circumstances that she had submitted to the ministry.
The court heard how she also removed her husband's name from tenancy agreements that she had forwarded to the ministry for homes she lived in at Tauranga and Hamilton.
Between December 2010 and September last year, she also sent a further nine forms to the ministry - each time omitting her correct address and despite three interviews with the ministry around the same time did not advise that she had been living with her husband.
Over the eight years, Horne received overpayments of the domestic purposes sole parent's benefit, supplementary assistance, work start grants and special needs grants totalling $92,796.86.
Horne's lawyer Karen Quinn said she accepted responsibility for her actions.
"She is remorseful and says that she will not reoffend."
She sought a "less restrictive" home detention sentence for a frail-looking Horne, who sat through yesterday's sentencing, saying she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and required a machine to help her breathing.
She also suffered from depression and had family circumstances that could not be revealed in court.
In sentencing Horne, Judge Glen Marshall considered a two-year starting point in prison but gave her credit for her family circumstances and health issues.
But Judge Marshall said she lacked remorse for her offending and had a previous fraud conviction.By James Ihaka Email James