A SUNSHINE Coast man who defrauded Centrelink to pay protection money has avoided jail.
Glenn Heinz Vollmer, 53, was on the Newstart Allowance, and declared only $6000 of his $45,000 income to Centrelink over a period of about 19 months, wrongly claiming more than $17,000 in benefits.
Today Vollmer pleaded guilty in Maroochydore Magistrates Court to three counts of obtaining financial advantage.
Solicitor Peter Boyce said the Buderim father-of-three was the victim of extortion, and had used the money to pay for protection after an incident that took place when he was in prison for a similar crime in 2009.
"What occurred to him in prison was abhorrent; that was compounded by the people who preyed upon him to act as his protector," Mr Boyce said.
"They preyed upon him again when he was out."
Mr Boyce said Vollmer found himself in a difficult position.
"And rightly or wrongly people take courses of action and decisions," he said.
"As he explained in the interviews he had fears about his own safety and his children.
"That chapter in his life is over."
Prosecutor Michael Armstrong said Volllmer had twice been notified by authorities - in 2010 and 2012 - that data matching had showed the income he reported and what he was actually making were inconsistent.
He said Vollmer had a history of gambling addiction but that was no longer an issue for him, and Vollmer had already paid back nearly $16,000 to the Commonwealth.
Acting Magistrate Andrew Walker said fraud committed against the welfare system would not be accepted, and would be met with stern punishment.
"The funds that you received were certainly not your funds, they were public funds put aside for public services," he said.
He sentenced Vollmer to nine months in prison, but because of his proactive repayment, his full and frank admissions and his role as sole carer for his eldest son, Vollmer was released immediately with a two-year good-behaviour bond.
"If I was to sentence you to serve actual time in custody today I don't think that would benefit the community," Mr Walker said.
"It certainly wouldn't benefit your family and it would disrupt your ability to repay the department."
He ordered Vollmer to repay the remaining $1414.41 to the Commonwealth, and pay court costs of $92.90.
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