Sisters got €56k in welfare while working at pub
TWO women were caught fraudulently claiming social welfare over a number of years totalling €56,000.
Sisters Loredana (24) and Estera (28) Plesca claimed supplementary allowance between September 2004 and November 2007 while both worked under false names at a Dublin pub, Kiely's of Donnybrook.
The Romanian nationals, of Pace Avenue, Clonee, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eight counts of fraudulently claiming a social welfare supplementary allowance of between €134.80 and €185.80 at Crumlin Community Welfare Office from September 23, 2004 to February 8, 2007. Estera Plesca has one previous conviction for a minor theft offence in 2001.
Judge Katherine Delahunt also ordered Loredana to perform 200 hours community service within one year in relation to two of the counts after receiving a probation report which assessed her as suitable for such work.
Judge Delahunt acknowledged at a previous court hearing that Estera would not be in a position to work in the community because she cares for her sick child and ailing father, and imposed an 18-month suspended sentence.
Loredana also received an 18-month suspended sentence on the balance of the counts
Garda Donal Faye told Cormac Quinn, prosecuting, that Mr Tom Maguire, a community welfare officer, received an anonymous report that the Plescas were working under false names at the Donnybrook pub.
Garda Faye said the sisters "emphatically" denied this allegation but a Kiely's manager confirmed the employment when shown their photographs.
The sisters, who have been living in Ireland for 11 years, used false names and PPS numbers to acquire their jobs.
Gardai arrested the sisters at Cashel Road Social Welfare Office in Crumlin on August 28, 2008. They each fully admitted their crimes.
Garda Faye said Estera Plesca had claimed a total of €29,015 in welfare payments and her sister had claimed €26,691 between 2004 and 2007.
The garda explained that the supplementary allowance is a last resort for people who are of no means who are not entitled to other social welfare payments.
Estera told gardai she claimed welfare and earned €260 a week from her pub job, which she got with the false PPS number.
Loredana, who is pregnant and fled to Spain briefly before returning to face sentence, said she earned €240 a week making sandwiches at Kiely's and bought the PPS number for €60.
GardaFaye agreed with John Moher, defending Estera Plesca, that his client had made full admissions and apologised to gardai and had a one-year-old baby with a life-threatening illness.
The garda agreed that she also cares for her sick father and is at low risk of reoffending.
He agreed with Kerida Naidoo, defending Loredana Plesca, that his client was easy to deal with in the investigation and was now four-and-a-half months pregnant. He agreed she told gardai she'd fled to Spain because she was scared of facing her sentence.
Both counsel submitted that their clients had aided the state by entering guilty pleas since fraud cases are generally difficult to prosecute.
Judge Delahunt said she gave full credit for the pleas and suspended the sentences for three years in each case.
She said she would have elected Estera Plesca for community service also had she not been consumed with caring for her sick baby.