A Northland woman in jail for defrauding the Transport Ministry of more than $700,000 has also pleaded guilty to benefit fraud.

Joanne Harrison, 50, a former Far North District Council manager, appeared via audio-visual link in the Kaikohe District Court yesterday charged with defrauding the Ministry of Social Development of just over $6400.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage and one of obtaining a benefit by deceit.

Harrison had falsified a wage slip to show she was earning $482 a week, so she could claim a domestic purposes benefit, when she was in fact earning $1842 a week as a manager at the Department of Corrections.


The offending took place while she was living in Waimate North, near Kerikeri, between December 2008 and April 2009. She is due to be sentenced on the benefit fraud charges on December 6.

She worked at the Far North District Council as a senior manager from June 2007 to October 2008. The council has said no concerns were raised about Harrison and there had been no indication of financial inconsistencies as a result of her employment.

Harrison is already serving a three years and seven months sentence at Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility for defrauding the Transport Ministry of $726,000.

Police are applying to seize her former home at Waimate North under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act. Police are still waiting for a date to be set for the court hearing.

They have also applied to seize jewellery and vehicles. The house was transferred to her husband, Patrick Sharp, in July 2016, shortly after the Serious Fraud Office launched its investigation of the Transport Ministry fraud.

The Ministry of Social Development said it would not comment on the case until after sentencing.