Immigration New Zealand has welcomed the conviction of Rotorua man fined for impersonating an immigration officer and carrying imitation firearms.
Ravinder Reddy Palli, 39, a former businessman from Rotorua, appeared in the Rotorua District Court on Wednesday for sentencing before Judge Garry Collin.
He was fined $300 and ordered to pay court costs of $130 on each charge after earlier pleading guilty to a charge of pretending to be an immigration officer - a charge brought under the Immigration Act that carried a maximum prison sentence of four months.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of presenting an imitation firearm, which each carried a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
Through his lawyer, Tim Braithwaite, Palli had fought to keep his name secret and to have the charges thrown out, on the grounds of undue hardship. Palli said he had lost his marriage and his business and would be forced to go back to India, away from his child in New Zealand.
However, Judge Collin dismissed the request for several reasons, including it being in the public interest that Palli's offending be known.
Judge Collin noted the offending had "sinister undertones" which he said he couldn't ignore.
Palli and an unknown man, who wasn't charged, went to a woman's house on Sunday, November 8 last year and spoke to her about her son's upcoming deportation file and issues relating to a lawyer payment he wanted to receive for providing assistance.
Palli told the woman "the whole of the Bay of Plenty is under my control for the protection" and for his safety, the Government had given him firearms.
As he explained that, he lifted up the front of his shirt and exposed the two imitation firearms.
Police later went to Palli's house and found the two imitation firearms.
The Rotorua Daily Post asked if this type of offending concerned the ministry.
In a written response from the ministry's communications team, ministry verification and compliance general manager Geoff Scott said it was an offence under the Immigration Act 2009 to impersonate an immigration officer.
"Whenever immigration officers interact with members of the public they will always identify themselves using their Immigration New Zealand warrant cards."
Scott said immigration officers would never visit a private residence to ask for payment of visa fees.
He said Immigration New Zealand encouraged the public to notify either Immigration New Zealand or the police should they suspect someone was acting unlawfully in this way.
"INZ welcomes the conviction of Ravinder Reddy Palli, and do not tolerate this type of offending."
As part of his sentence, Palli was ordered to pay $1500 reparation to the victim in a lump sum within 21 days.