A Perth mother and wife of a West Australian mining millionaire, 42-year-old Julie Bohannan has been jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to fraudulently claiming more than $60,000 in benefits. Julie Bohannan, repeatedly lied to Centrelink over eight years about her marital status, where she was living and how much money she had.
Between 2001 and 2009 on various dates the accused made a number of false statements in her claims for Parenting Payment Single and Family allowance/Family Tax Benefit with the intention of deceiving Centrelink as to her true circumstances and receiving social security benefits to which she was not entitled. The accused was not entitled to these benefits, as the value of her assets and the level of her and her husband’s income were sufficient to completely disentitle the accused from receiving social security benefits.
Being unaware of the accused’s true circumstances, and relying on the information she had provided in her claim forms, Centrelink granted the accused’s claims for Parenting Payment Single and Family allowance/Family Tax Benefit. The accused received Parenting Payment Single payments in the name ‘Julie Graham-Hoffman’ until 14 July 2009, when her payments were cancelled fraudulently receiving a total of $61,575.74. The accused also, for a period, simultaneously and fraudulently received Family Tax Benefit in the name ‘Julie Bohannan’, totalling $1,134.11.
On 2 September 2015 Julie Bohannan was convicted in the Perth District Court and sentenced to a term of imprisonment to be served immediately. In fixing a total effective sentence of 18 months imprisonment to be released after 9 months in relation to:
- 1 count of dishonestly intending to influence a Commonwealth public official contrary to section 135.1(7) of the Criminal Code (Cth)
- 1 count of dishonestly intending to obtain a gain contrary to section 135.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth)
- 1 count of obtaining a financial advantage by deception contrary to section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
His Honour noted the need for general deterrence in these matters, and the general principles applicable to social security offending. His Honour noted that general deterrence is particularly relevant to a case such as the present case, which involves a sustained and lengthy fraud on Commonwealth revenue. His Honour noted that Centrelink relies on claimants to act honestly in their dealings with the agency, and that the offender had not done so. She had been deceitful, was not forthright and was not truthful in her dealings with Centrelink.