Beneficiary faces jail for false claims

An Albion Park woman is facing a three-month jail sentence after confessing to ripping off more than $20,000 from Centrelink.

Tennille Ann Holz, 33, admitted yesterday that she failed to declare to the welfare agency the full fortnightly sum of money she was receiving from a part-time job at Woolworths, leading her to claim $21,336 more than she was entitled to during the 28 months from March 2010 to July 2012.

Wollongong Local Court heard Holz told Centrelink her fortnightly income during that time was between $296 and $810, when Woolworths had paid her between $650 and $2375 a fortnight.

The total amount she claimed to have been paid by Woolworths was $26,217 in the 2½-year period, however, tax figures reveal she actually pocketed $63,505.

At the same time, Holz was receiving the single parenting payment from Centrelink, as well as rental assistance.

The court heard Holz was paid $31,280 by Centrelink in the same period, equating to $12,989 more than she was entitled to receive based on her actual income.

She also signed a declaration in January 2011 that she did not own the Derwent Place home she was living in and was paying $380 a week rent.

However, it was later revealed she did in fact own the property at the time and had fraudulently claimed $8347 in rental assistance from the Commonwealth.

Holz's lawyer, John Gallagher, argued his client's actions had stemmed from "need rather than greed", saying she had four children to look after on her own and received no financial help from their father following a marriage breakdown.

He said she had already repaid the bulk of the money and was very remorseful over what she had done.

Magistrate Michael Stoddart accepted that Holz had almost repaid all the money but said her actions amounted to "downright dishonesty".

"On some occasions you significantly under-declared what you were being paid [by Woolworths]," he said.

He sentenced Holz to three months' jail but agreed to adjourn the matter to January to have her assessed for home detention.

If approved, Holz would avoid full-time jail and instead serve the term in her own home.

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