Chef jailed for series of frauds
CHEF Dimitri ‘James’ Landis lay low in the village of Burringbar fearing for his life from members of the Sydney underworld, but still managed to steal $80,000 from Centrelink in 13 years of making false claims.
Landis, 58, was yesterday jailed for 2½ years, and ordered to serve a minimum of 15 months, after pleading guilty in the Lismore District Court to a series of frauds against the Commonwealth.
Landis claimed he had not chosen that path of offending, but Judge James Black found his actions over 13 years had been deliberate.
Cross-examined by his lawyer, Cameron Bell, Landis explained he was Greek-born, but grew up in Sydney.
He agreed he had a lengthy history of criminal offending since a teenager and mixed with the wrong crowd.
Landis revealed he fled Sydney in the 1990s after giving evidence against a gang of cocaine smugglers.
“I was threatened numerous times by these people who I testified against,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to do and I headed north. I got off the train at Murwillumbah and got a little farm in Burringbar.
“I lived the life of a recluse in Burringbar in fear of my life. I was devastated as to how I’d ended up in that situation. I just lived in constant fear. I had no financial plan. I had no way of keeping myself and it (the fraud offences) just flowed on.”
Landis said he claimed the benefits under two names that were both different versions of his name.
He became very emotional when he spoke of how his partner, a nurse, was killed in car crash near Burringbar and he came across her body in the wreckage.
The Commonwealth Crown prosecutor said the offences totalled $79,726 and took place between 1994 and 1997, and between 2001 and 2007.
Landis will be eligible for release in November 2011.