A former Ministry of Social Development case manager who funneled more than $26,000 of beneficiary payments into her own bank accounts has been sentenced to home detention.
Joanne Marie Dodunski (38), unemployed, appeared in the Alexandra District Court yesterday for sentencing on 12 charges of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose.
Dodunski, who carried out the offending while working in the ministry's office in Papakura, Auckland, relocated to the Lindis Valley after her offending was uncovered.
Judge Michael Turner said the defendant was authorised to process payments for beneficiaries, including special needs grants and renewable assistance.
Between April 2019 and August 2020, she made payments totaling $26,090.88 into personal bank accounts, or directly to suppliers to pay household expenses.
She tagged the payments to the accounts of 12 welfare beneficiaries, including those of friends and neighbours.
"This was a loss to the state, every taxpayer in this country," Judge Turner said.
Her offending was motivated by her husband having lost his job, making her the sole income-earner as well as main carer of their children.
Dodunski also claimed she needed the money to buy methamphetamine, which "gave her energy" when she was exhausted.
However, her meth use was self-reported and there was no evidence of it, the judge said.
Her offending was "sophisticated, deliberate, calculated and lengthy" and a huge breach of her employer's trust in her.
It was further aggravated by her initial denial of the charges.
The only mitigating factor was her previous clean record.
He sentenced her to nine months' home detention, and ordered her to repay all the money, $800 immediately and the balance at $40 a week.