Couple who paid CAB €900,000 fail to get dole backdated
A COUPLE who ran an illegal money lending racket and who were ordered to pay €900,000 to the Criminal Assets Bureau(CAB) have failed to win backdated welfare benefits.
Brendan and Patricia Wallace, of Fernleigh, Westbury, Corbally, Limerick, appealed a decision not to grant them the job seeker's allowance.
At Limerick Circuit Criminal Court, Judge James O'Donohoe heard that the couple, who have three children, applied for the dole on June 10, 2008.
A CAB Social Welfare Officer, who had her identity protected, told the court that a social welfare inspector investigated the caseand wrote a report which was the basis for the refusal of their application.
At the time, the couple were attempting to sell two properties at Grianan and Riverdale, Corbally, Limerick, following the action brought against them by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
When they made their application, the income threshold which successful applicants could not exceed was €401 per week. The Wallaces' assets were assessed and they were adjudged to have means of €456 weekly.
The court was told that their means were assessed from the capital values of their properties less the mortgages.
The couple contended it was unfair to include the two Limerick properties, as they had given an undertaking that proceeds from the sales of these assets would be paid over to CAB. They also had a timeshare property in Portugal, but this was not part of the settlement.
After they had been convicted of money lending, CAB took a successful action to seize €920,697 from the couple -- €681,320 from Mr Wallace and €239,377 from his wife.
After the two properties were sold, the couple applied again for job seeker's allowance in March 2009, which they were granted.
Yesterday, Judge O'Donohoe refused the appeal for the backdated allowance and said there was "a sordid criminal background" in the case. However, he added that the court chose to ignore this in its deliberations.
The couple were convicted in January 2007 of giving illegal loans, where they were charging interest rates as high as 30pc in some cases. Both were given 10-month jail sentences, but in the case of Ms Wallace it was suspended on appeal.
They were arrested following a surveillance operation outside Mary Street post office in Limerick on August 1 2006 when they were observed handing over child benefit books to their owners.
The owners would later return to their parked car and hand back the books and a sum of money to the couple.
Investigating gardai later recovered nine child benefit books, a ledger containing 43 names and details of 150 transactions, an extendible baton, mace spray, a white sock containing two snooker balls, and a quantity of cash.