26 Aug 2013

Work and Income manager 'stole under pressure'

10:58 pm on 26 August 2013

The lawyer for a Work and Income manager who gave family members benefits they were not entitled to says his client felt under pressure.

Laki Scanlan was sentenced to 10 months' home detention after earlier pleading guilty at the Auckland District Court to stealing more than $194,000 while working as a case manager at the New Lynn branch.

Scanlan's lawyer Michael Kidd said he felt a need to pass the benefits on to his wider family.

But Judge Claire Ryan said the idea that cultural pressures caused people to offend was what she called a nonsense. "I am not going to accept there are cultural reasons behind the fraud."

Judge Ryan said many Samoans work hard for their community.

Afterwards, the Ministry of Social Development said the money would be recovered at all costs but could not say how that will happen.

The ministry said Scanlan was caught using data-mining programmes introduced last year.

It said the former case manager was a trusted member of staff who betrayed not only his colleagues but also his family, who were unaware of how their identities were being used.