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Nurse in $17K Centrelink fraud while earning $107K

GUILTY PLEAS: Nurse Suzanne Filmer, 54, outside court yesterday.
GUILTY PLEAS: Nurse Suzanne Filmer, 54, outside court yesterday.

A NURSE who ripped $17,000 off Centrelink while earning $107,000 has been sentenced to nine months jail after showing no remorse for her fraud.

Instead, when Suzanne Filmer went before Bundaberg Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud , she acted as though she was blameless.

Filmer, 54, even said "I've done nothing wrong" outside court after Magistrate Belinda Merrin allowed her to walk free and avoid jail.

Filmer pleaded guilty to the offences, which involved making 65 false declarations abut her income to Centrelink when claiming fortnightly benefits between 2010 and 2012.

At times she had been working for Queensland Health, Oz Care, nursing homes and doing casual work.

Filmer only declared an income of $24,000 - just one-quarter of what she grossed, $107,076.

Filmer received $21,000 in benefits but was eligible for only $4250, an overpayment of $17,618.

Now, five years later, she has only repaid $321 - the amount that, the prosecutor said, had been withheld from her Centrelink payment.

When asked by Ms Merrin what she had to say about her offending, Filmer, who now lives on the Sunshine Coast near Maroochydore, explained she had been working for various organisations including Queensland Health, and been in casual employment.

"I've never had a Centrelink problem (in the past)," Filmer said.

"They used to stamp a book," she said.

Ms Merrin said Filmer accepted she had defrauded Centrelink when entering her pleas of guilty.

"I don't think I did them intentionally," Filmer said.

But Ms Merrin wasn't buying it.

"Please don't pretend you don't understand ... you obviously are not unintelligent," she said.

"The Department of Public Prosecutions has spent a lot of time taking you through the evidence.

"Do you accept you deliberately misled Centrelink to receive benefits you were not entitled to."

Filmer said "yes, I accept it".

Ms Merrin said Filmer had earned $107,000 and it must have been obvious when she was under-declaring her income to Centrelink.

"A lot of times I was working away, out bush," Filmer said.

" I did a lot through my accountants."

However, Ms Merrin pointed out to her that errors were made in her 65 claims over the 18 months.

When asked why she had not made repayments, Filmer said "it only came to my attention when I came back from the bush".

"I didn't deliberately go out and defraud anyone," Filmer said.

Ms Merrin said she was having "a little difficulty" in accepting everything Filmer was telling her.

Ms Merrin found that Filmer was "not remorseful" but, after giving thought, said it would be best that she remain in the community working so she could pay back the money.

Filmer, after being sentenced to nine months jail, was released on a $5000 recognisance to be of good behaviour for four years, and ordered to repay the $17,000.

Topics:  buncourt bundaberg bundaberg magistrates court editors picks fraud



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