Woman gets house arrest for $50,000 fraud
A Kelowna woman who stole more than $50,000 from a former employer has been ordered to pay back $7,800 of that amount over three years.
Bonnie Andres, 51, pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 for offences committed between January 2012 and April 2015.
Andres was the bookkeeper for Capal Enterprises, a Kelowna company owned by Paul Richards, from 2004 to 2015. She had exclusive access to bank accounts and financial records for the company, a Kelowna court heard Monday.
In October 2014, it was discovered Andres had overpaid herself in vacation pay by about $8,500.
She was confronted and claimed it was an error.
She had begun paying that back monthly until she was terminated in April 2015, said Crown prosecutor Gordon Comer.
Further fraud was detected by another employee in April 2015.
The majority of the fraud was committed by making out cheques to herself that were pre-signed by Richards.
“A couple of them would have been real paycheques, but with extra money added on for extra holiday pay, and there were other cheques that were completely bogus paycheques,” said Comer.
Andres altered 10 cheques after they came back from the bank to make it seem like they had been paid to a supplier.
There were also a few cheques with forged signatures, said Comer.
To cover her fraud, Andres made 22 false entries into the general ledger.
Although the fraud was reported in 2015, the charge was not laid until spring 2017, and Andres pleaded guilty in September.
Richards read aloud a victim impact statement in court, expressing the effect of the fraud on him and his business.
“My ability to earn an income is gone,” he said. “I am now in my 70s and there is no way to recover the losses.”
Richards said the loss of the $50,000 caused him to close his business, which employed six people.
Crown and defence put forward a joint submission of a nine-month conditional sentence of house arrest followed by two years’ probation.
“I’m a bit concerned that this is on the low end,” said Judge Monica McParland.
McParland sent the lawyers away during a break Monday to find cases to support their submission.
“It’s always important to make sure . . . even in the circumstances of joint submissions, that I am still doing my job in terms of making an evaluation as to whether the proposed submission is appropriate,” she said.
As of November 2012, a conditional sentence is no longer available for people convicted of fraud over $5,000 in Canada, but because these offences began before the change in the Criminal Code, Andres qualified for a conditional sentence.
Following the submission of previous cases, McParland said she still thought the proposed sentence was too low.
“I do believe it needs to be beefed up in terms of the principles of denunciation and deterrence,” she said.
McParland sentenced Andres to a 15-month conditional sentence order.
For the first nine months, Andres will be bound by a curfew from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday to Friday, along with a curfew from 5 p.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday.
For the last six months, the curfew will be from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday to Friday and 10 p.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday.
Andres was ordered to pay $200 a month for the 15 months of the conditional sentence, as well as $200 a month during the two-year probation, for a total of $7,800.
If Andres does not make those monthly payments, she could be sent to jail, said McParland.
McParland also issued a stand-alone restitution order of $45,013.56, which Richards could enforce in civil court.
During the conditional sentence order, Andres is not to possess or consume drugs or alcohol, and she is not permitted to enter any liquor store or bar or place where minors are prohibited by the terms of a liquor licence.
“The idea is you are on a jail sentence,” said McParland.
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