Oleh Toropov of Ormond St, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, entered Ireland under the name of a deceased Latvian man and proceeded to work for four years while paying tax under the false alias.
However, after losing his job in 2012, he began using the deceased’s name to claim benefits and rent allowance totalling €17, 926.
Toropov, of Russian ethnicity, worked for a meat processing firm in Tipperary and a construction company before loosing his job, Nenagh Circuit Court heard.
He claimed €7,344.50 in job seekers’ benefit, €10,070 in job seekers’ allowance, and €512 in rent allowance, gardaí said.
Gardaí found Polish, Russian, Romanian, and Ukrainian passports with Toropov’s photo ID, upon searching his house and arresting him in December.
An official from the Special Investigations Unit, attached to the Department of Social Protection in Thurles, tipped off gardaí.
William O’Brien, defending, told the court Toropov was not typical of someone who came to Ireland to “milk the system”, but had been told by others he could claim social welfare after losing his job.
Mr O’Brien accepted, however, that Toropov had illegally entered Ireland as a Latvian national and not as a Ukrainian.
Latvian nationals, as members of the EU can travel and work freely in Europe, whilst Ukrainian nationals, who are outside the EU terms, would have to apply to Irish immigration authorities to freely work here.
Detective Garda Declan O’Carroll of Nenagh Garda Station, accepted in court that Toropov had worked and paid taxes for four years but under a different name.
He also accepted Toropov was sending money home to his wife and daughter whom he claimed he had not seen in seven years.
Mr O’Brien said Toropov was “reluctant” to return to his native country, which is at present in armed conflict with Russia.
“Well, I’m reluctant he stays in Ireland given his breach of the laws here,” said Judge Thomas Teehan.
He said while he could not order the Department of Immigration to deport Toropov, he expected it would be finalised within seven days of his jail term ending. He imposed a four- year sentence, suspending the final three years. He backdated the sentence to December 16, 2013, from when Toropov had been in on remand.
Toropov gave an undertaking to comply with the immigration authorities to leave the country within a short period of time after finishing his jail sentence.