House arrest for Penticton man’s welfare fraud

A Penticton man failed to report his income to the ministry while receiving disability cheques

A Penticton man who failed to report income while receiving disability payments is spending the next three months under house arrest.

George Wayne Cunningham, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 in Penticton Provincial Court Monday.

Cunningham first applied for income assistance on March 20, 1998 with the ministry and in 2003 he successfully applied for designation as a person with disabilities eventually recieving $800 a month. He suffered from chronic depression and borderline personality disorder.

In July 2008 Cunningham became employed at Safeway in Penticton. He submitted forms disclosing his income for the first two months of employment, but did not submit forms for the next five and a half years.

In January, 2014, the ministry recieved information from the Canada Revenue Agency indicating Cunningham was the receipient of unreported income. Cunningham blamed his bad memory to an investigative officer with the ministry on the case as to why he failed to report the income.

Cunningham’s manger described him to the investigator as a good employee who got along well with peers and supervisors. He was also reportedly a top fundraiser and interacted well with customers as a cashier. He has no prior criminal record.

A pre-sentence and psychiatric report indicated a tough upbringing for Cunningham including childhood sexual abuse which resulted in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He also suffers from cannabis abuse and alcohol abuse disorders and was using crack cocaine during the time he was not reporting his income, his defence counsel said.

Cunningham was sentenced to three months of house arrest and three months on a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. as well as nine months of probation.

For restitution, $31,245.26 will be taken off Cunningham’s disability cheques until the amount is paid.