A former major in the Australian Army has admitted defrauding the Department of Defence to the tune of more than $91,000 by claiming rent assistance payments for a property he in fact owned.
Travis David Morgan Stephens also caused a more than $4400 loss to the Commonwealth department by falsely claiming he had been evicted from his previous place so it would pay for his relocation.
Stephens pleaded guilty in the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday morning to charges of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception and dishonestly causing a loss to the department.
He then spent more than four hours waiting inside the court building in the futile hope a reporter standing outside to photograph him would give up and leave.
An agreed statement of facts, tendered to the court, shows Stephens was enlisted as a soldier in the Australian Army in 2000.
He was deployed to East Timor and Afghanistan during his career, rising to the rank of major in 2017 before being administratively discharged two years later.
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His offending, which spanned nearly seven years, began in 2011.
According to the agreed facts, Stephens and his mother, Ilze, jointly purchased a unit in Kingston that year.
They obtained the finance for this on the condition both their names appeared on the mortgage and property title, despite Stephens having commented to a broker that he wanted his name "left off" because it might "restrict" his Defence Force rent entitlements.
During 2011, his furniture and personal effects were moved to the new place at a cost of $4406.45.
He falsely represented that he had been evicted from his previous home, claiming he was entitled to relocation assistance because its owner intended to occupy it.
"As a result of the accused's false representations that he was evicted ... the accused caused the Department of Defence to pay for his relocation ... in circumstances where he was not entitled to relocation assistance under the eviction provision," the facts state.
Between August 2011 and about April 2018, meanwhile, Stephens claimed rent assistance payments for the unit he jointly owned.
He dishonestly received a total of $91,705.54 during this period.
The facts show Stephens was "confronted" by email about his fraud during the last month of his offending.
"It seems that you are receiving the rental subsidy from the Defence Force to subsidize [sic] living in your own property, which seems prohibited," the email read.
After Stephens pleaded guilty on Wednesday, Justice Michael Elkaim placed his matter in a registrar's list in order for a sentencing date to be obtained on Thursday morning.
The man faces up to 15 years in prison.
Ilze Stephens, who also faces charges, will have her case mentioned next Monday.
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