A car dealer alleged to have been involved in a campaign of intimidation aimed at halting land sales has avoided a prison sentence for defrauding the State of pandemic unemployment supports.

John Alex Kane escaped with a fine after offering to repay all of the money he obtained through Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) fraud.

The 49-year-old businessman, of Cartron, Granard, Co Longford, and his brother Seamus Kane (53), of Ardnagullion, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, both pleaded guilty to PUP fraud last week.

John Alex Kane once ran the Kanes of Granard motor business, but it was sold by a receiver after the Revenue Commissioners secured a €4.97m judgment against him for unpaid tax on car sales.

He and his brother were both previously jailed for contempt of court orders following an alleged long-running campaign of intimidation aimed at frustrating the work of receiver Myles Kirby, who was selling off properties to satisfy the judgment.

Mr Kirby alleged in the High Court that efforts were made to put off prospective buyers, with incidents including attempted arson attacks, break-ins, criminal damage, threatening behaviour and the repeated placement of livestock on the land.

John Alex Kane denied orchestrating the alleged campaign of intimidation.

Longford District Court heard last week that he admitted to eight counts of inducing the Minister for Social Protection, through dishonesty and deception, to pay him PUP that he was not entitled to claim, contrary to Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

The charges involved the fraudulent claiming of payments totalling €2,653 in March, April and May 2020.

At a sentencing hearing yesterday, Judge Bernadette Owens heard John Alex Kane had brought the full amount owed to court. Taking into account his guilty plea, the offer of full compensation and the fact that he had no similar previous convictions, the judge fined him €250 in respect of three of the counts.

The remaining five counts were taken into consideration.

The judge rejected a request from a solicitor for John Alex Kane that the matter be dealt with under the Probation Act.

The court previously heard he was not eligible for the payments as he was claiming similar benefits in the North, had claimed to be an employee of a motor company which had in fact dissolved in 2018, and had not been dealt with as a PAYE employee of any entity since 2009.

Seamus Kane was sentenced last week, receiving four months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, on condition he pay €1,500 in compensation to the Department of Social Protection by April 2024. He had pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming a total of €3,703 in PUP.

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan’s exclusive take on the day’s news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *