‘Intimidation campaign’ brothers admit fraudulently claiming pandemic payments
Both brothers were previously jailed for contempt of court in connection with an alleged campaign of interference
Two brothers alleged to have been involved in a campaign of intimidation aimed at halting land sales have admitted defrauding the State of pandemic unemployment supports.
Car dealer John Alex Kane (49) and his brother, farmer Seamus Kane (53), both entered guilty pleas yesterday to Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) fraud.
A court heard that not only had John Alex Kane been illegally receiving the benefit, he had also claimed similar support payments in Northern Ireland.
The businessman once ran the Kanes of Granard motor business in Co Longford, but it was sold by a receiver after the Revenue Commissioners secured a €4.97m judgment against him for unpaid tax on car sales.
Seamus Kane, in addition to admitting to PUP fraud, pleaded guilty to charges of possessing a drug which can only be legally possessed by veterinary surgeons and to a number of road traffic offences, including drink driving.
Both brothers were previously jailed for contempt of court in connection with an alleged campaign of interference with the work of receiver Myles Kirby of Kirby Healy Chartered Accountants.
Mr Kirby alleged efforts were made to put prospective buyers off purchasing various properties once owned by John Alex Kane.
The High Court heard there had been attempted arson attacks, break-ins, criminal damage, threatening behaviour and the repeated placement of livestock on the land.
John Alex Kane, of Cartron, Granard, Co Longford, repeatedly denied orchestrating the alleged campaign of intimidation.
Longford District Court heard yesterday John Alex Kane had offered guilty pleas to eight counts of inducing the Social Protection Minister, through dishonesty and deception, to pay him PUP he was not entitled to claim.
The charges involved the fraudulent claiming of payments totalling €2,653 in March, April and May 2020.
Inspector Dave Jordan told the court John Alex Kane was not eligible for the payments on several grounds. These were that he had been claiming similar benefits in the North, using an address in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, that he had claimed to be an employee of a motor company which had been dissolved in 2018, and that he had not been dealt with as a PAYE employee of any entity since 2009.
Asked about previous offences, Inspector Jordan told Judge Bernadette Owens that a charge of entering a building with intent to commit an offence had been dealt with under the Probation Act in 2020, while John Alex Kane was given a two-year suspended sentence in 1998 for grievous bodily harm.
The judge adjourned sentencing to a date next month after defence solicitor Brid Mimnagh said her client was willing to repay the money in full to the department or pay the same sum to charity.
Ms Mimnagh said John Alex Kane acknowledged he was not entitled to the payments and had “naively, to a certain extent” believed he could claim on both sides of the Border.
Meanwhile, Seamus Kane, of Ardnagullion, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, pleaded guilty to similar charges of fraudulently claiming a total of €3,703 in PUP between April 2020 and March 2021.
Judge Owens sentenced him to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, on condition he pay €1,500 in compensation to the department by April 2024.
She also fined him €750 for possession of Norocaine, a drug which can only be legally possessed by veterinary surgeons. Ms Mimnagh said the drug was used in the dehorning of calves and it had been given to him several years previously by a vet who was now deceased. However, Inspector Jordan said no vet would have given the medication to Seamus Kane “in any good conscience”.
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