Court generic, Lady Justice statue
Court generic, Lady Justice statue

Woman sentenced for defrauding government of $25K

A QUEENSLAND woman who defrauded the Commonwealth Government of more than $25,000 over a nearly two year period has been spared a jail sentence this week.

Leanne Crowder, 56, who now lives in the northern NSW village of Woodenbong, was sentenced in Grafton Local Court this week.

Crowder pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct to obtain financial advantage from a Commonwealth Government entity from January 29, 2016 to September 22, 2017 at Peak Crossing, West End and elsewhere in Queensland.

During that period, Crowder was overpaid $25,454.79 when she intentionally failed to inform the Department of Human Services of income while she was employed by Queensland Health on a part-time basis as a social worker.

According to agreed facts Crowder was receiving a disability support pension and failed to report to the DHS her income, and had the income received from employment deposited into a different account to which the DHS payments were made.

On January 8, 2016, DHS staff contacted Crowder as information had been received about employment with Queensland Health.

Crowder said she was employment, and DHS staff informed her of her reporting obligations in regards to the disability support pension, however Crowder lied and said she didn't expect any earnings over the next reporting period.

Ten days later Crowder was again contacted by DHS staff, but Crowder again falsely claimed she could not access her pay slips due to computer issues, and that her partner was ill and she was not currently working.

The offending was eventually detected by a data-match with the Australian Taxation Office.

In court on Monday, magistrate Kathy Crittenden said Crowder was highly regarded by the people she worked with, however the amount of money was "not insignificant".

"Matters such as this case cause significant hardship to the community, and social security fraud is a very serious matter," she said.

Ms Crittenden said the offending took place over a long period of time, and was not just a crime of omission but included false statements.

Crowder was sentenced to a nine-month intensive corrections order, and will have to perform 100 hours community service. Ms Crittenden also made orders for Crowder to pay $24,782.39 in reparations to the Commonwealth Government.

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