Man (35) charged with stealing almost €15,000 in PUP fraud

Accused remanded on bail after being charged with 15 different fraud offences

A 35-year-old man has been remanded on bail charged with stealing almost €15,000 in false pandemic unemployment payments (PUP) from the Department of Social Protection.

Oluwagbewikeke Lewis, with an address at Brookdale, Midleton, Co Cork, was charged with a total of 15 different fraud offences when he was brought by gardaí before Judge Marie Keane at Midleton District Court on Thursday.

Mr Lewis was charged by Det Garda Trevor Conroy with two counts of falsely claiming PUP from the Department of Social Protection, contrary to section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

One charge alleges that Mr Lewis falsely obtained PUP amounting to €8,778 between May 19th and December 15th, 2020, while the other charge alleges that he falsely obtained PUP of €6,104 between May 19th and November 3rd, 2020.

False passport

Mr Lewis was also charged by Det Garda Conroy, on secondment to the Department of Social Protection, with one count of using a false public services number and one count of using a false UK passport at Neylon Facilities Management, Galway, on July 4th, 2019.

He was also charged by Det Garda Eimear Keeshan with possessing a stolen passport at his home on November 13th, 2020, and with three counts of possessing a false passport at unknown locations on February 14th, 2019, August 28th, 2020, and September 5th, 2020.

Mr Lewis was also charged by Det Garda Keeshan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau with a further three separate counts of possessing false Permanent TSB bank statements at his home address on November 13th 2020.

Mr Lewis was charged by Det Garda Kieran Crowley of Midleton Garda station with two counts of possessing a false passport at Ballyvodock, Midleton on November 6th 2020 and two counts of possessing false Permanent TSB statements at the same address on the same date.

Complex investigation

Sgt Claire Miskella told the court that the investigation was a very complex one and she sought an adjournment of one month for the Director of Public Prosecutions's (DPP) directions in relation to 11 of the charges brought by Det Garda Conroy and Det Garda Keeshan.

Gardaí had already received the DPP’s directions in relation to the charges brought by Det Garda Crowley and they were to the effect that the matter should be sent forward for trial by indictment at circuit court level and she sought a two-week adjournment in relation to these charges.

She said that gardaí had no objection to bail and defence solicitor Joe Cuddigan said that his client was agreeable to the conditions being sought by gardaí while he also applied for free legal aid for his client as he was a man of little means.

Judge Marie Keane remanded Mr Lewis on his own bond of €200 to appear again at Midleton District Court on March 25th on the charges brought by Det Garda Crowley and to appear again at Midleton District Court on April 15th on the remaining 11 charges.

She made it a condition of Mr Lewis’s bail that he sign on daily at Midleton Garda Station, that he reside at his home address and notify gardaí of any change of address, that he surrender his passport and that he provide gardaí with a phone number on which he can be contacted at all times.