Woman jailed over disability insurance fraud
AN IPSWICH mum who claimed to suffer "battered wife syndrome" when she agreed to pull off a $300,000 insurance scam, has been sentenced to five years jail.
Judge Dennis Lynch QC ordered Wendy Jayne Lentini, 56, to complete at least 18 months of the sentence behind bars before the remainder of the term is suspended.
The woman now faces losing her house at Mount Tarampa near Lowood, which was allegedly purchased using some of the insurance monies.
Following a two-week trial an Ipswich jury found Lentini guilty of committing fraud against the Commonwealth Bank's CommInsure - in which she falsely claimed to have Multiple Sclerosis to receive the massive payout.
During the trial she claimed that her husband Cammy Lentini poured petrol over her, threatening to kill her.
The fraud was discovered after her husband committed suicide in 2012. Before his death he first sent out an email about the crime committed a decade earlier in 2002.
A former police officer, Mrs Anne Gilmont (often referred to in court as Mrs Anne Dwyer), did have diagnosed MS and she admitted going to a Brisbane hospital for an MRI scan while pretending to be Wendy Lentini.
Gilmont (now Mrs Anne Dwyer) pleaded guilty some time ago to fraud. As her health deteriorated she became wheelchair bound.
Her severe medical issues and cooperation with the police investigation were taken into account and she was sentenced to five years jail (fully suspended) for her role.
Judge Lynch said the husbands of the women, Michael Gilmont (former police officer at Gatton) and Cammy Lentini, were clearly the architects of the offence and had used the women as pawns.
In submission on penalty, Crown prosecutor Noel Needham said Lentini also had unrelated Commonwealth offence matters before the Ipswich Magistrates Court.
Mr Needham said the $300,000 was a significant loss to the insurance company and Lentini at first gave information to investigating detectives that held "falsehoods" (lies), at first insisting she did suffer from MS.
"It is not alleged that she was a prime mover but party under the wings of others. It was reasonably complex and if not for the actions of a co-conspirator (her husband) it may never have been found out," he said.
Acknowledging a medical report from Lentini's legal team that says she will do jail time substantially harder than others because of mental health issues and mood disorders, Mr Needham said she should not receive a lesser penalty than the one given to Anne Gilmont (Anne Dwyer), who had a good record as a police officer.
The Crown sought that she should serve actual jail time.
In defence submission, barrister Tony Kimmins referred to a report that it was likely she was suffering battered wife syndrome and had anxiety and depression at the time, and lived in constant fear during her marriage.
Mr Kimmins said Wendy Lentini and Anne Gilmont (Dwyer) "were really the pawns of the two husbands, the guiding lights of this fraud".
He said Lentini through her solicitor was in talks with the insurance company over $145,000 after it rejected an offer of $115,000.
A caveat had been placed on her property.
"Mrs Dwyer says when her husband was spending was like a drunken sailor she withdrew $40,000 (from their account)," Mr Kimmins said.
But it was accepted that Lentini lived at the property and received some benefit.
Judge Lynch said Lentini used the defence of "duress" in her trial, and that it was her husband and Michael Gilmont who hatched the plan.
But she had met with Anne Gilmont (Dwyer) to discuss MS symptoms before going to her own doctor to seek the diagnosis.
And it had been Lentini who signed various documents to enable the fraud, and who drove Mrs Gilmont to the hospital for the MRI scans.
He said the Mount Tarampa property was purchased soon after, and $136,000 had gone to Michael Gilmont.
Judge Lynch said the jury rejected her argument of acting under duress.
He accepted Lentini suffered from health issues and that imprisonment would be much harder for her.
He said a five-year jail term was appropriate and that she would serve 18 months before being suspended.
Lentini cried at the sentence then hugged her family and friends before being led away.