October 25th, 2020

Woman receives house arrest for fraud-related charges


By Shurtz, Delon on October 31, 2019.

Delon Shurtz

Lethbridge Herald

dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge woman who admitted earlier this year to committing several fraud-related offences worth thousands of dollars will not have to go to jail.

Kristina Lucille Zinger, a.k.a. Fiddler, was hoping for house arrest, and that’s what she got when she was sentenced Wednesday in Lethbridge provincial court. Calgary lawyer Andre Ouellette successfully argued for a conditional sentence, which allows Zinger to serve her sentence in the community, rather than in an actual jail.

“A conditional sentence order is a jail term,” he reminded the court.

He suggested house arrest can be even more difficult than jail because she is continually under the watchful eye of the community and she faces the threat of going to jail if she breaches any conditions of her CSO. Ouellette also suggested his client was manipulated by her husband to commit crimes, and by other men before him.

Crown prosecutor Erin Olsen recommended an actual jail sentence of about two years, and pointed out her ex-husband previously received a 27-month sentence for similar offences.

Olsen said Zinger’s moral blameworthiness is high and the sentence must be proportionate with the gravity of the offences She added Zinger has a criminal record, and has continued to commit offences even though she had received a CSO for other crimes in 2010.

Zinger was all set to stand trial earlier this year, but instead pleaded guilty to various charges, including impersonation, obstructing a peace officer, possession of stolen property, possession of identity documents, possession of stolen debit and credit cards, forgery, fraud, attempted fraud and possession of a firearm while prohibited from doing so. Sentencing was adjourned, however, for the preparation of a pre-sentence report to help the judge determine a fit sentence.

During a hearing in Lethbridge provincial court Aug. 2, Zinger, 36, admitted that she, her former husband Adam Zinger and others, perpetrated numerous frauds last year before they were eventually caught by police.

Reading from an agreed statement of facts, Olsen told court that on Jan. 22, 2018, the couple went to a northside gas station where Kristina gave her husband a counterfeit US$20 bill, with which he bought a drink for $1.99 and received $23.20 Canadian in change.

The next day Kristina was with a female friend at a restaurant where they bought food and drinks, and Zinger’s friend paid with a counterfeit US$50 bill.

About a month later the two women bought several items from a grocery store, paying with counterfeit US$10 and US$20 bills. The same day Kristina went to a liquor store and used a counterfeit US$20 bill to buy a $17 bottle of liquor.

On March 1, police officers searched her westside home and found a plastic bag on the fridge containing paper clippings of printed U.S. bills and two ink cartridges, as well as paper clippings and printed bills in a garbage can.

Police interviewed several people, including a roommate who said Kristina made the counterfeit money in her room. While Kristina was not entirely co-operative with police, she admitted she passed counterfeit bills at two locations.

Kristina also purchased vehicles using stolen identity documents and other items at various businesses. Police interviewed a woman whose wallet was stolen in a store more than two years before police contacted her.

“Only after police came to her did she discover numerous transactions had been conducted in her name, and without her permission,” Olsen told court.

The woman discovered bank accounts had been opened, credit cards applied for at Canadian Tire and Walmart, credit extended for the purpose of at least two vehicles, and business accounts opened her name.

Olsen said the Zingers worked together to forge documents that helped them to fraudulently obtain a 2016 Dodge Durango from a Calgary dealership using credit from TD Auto Finance. They used their victim’s driver’s licence and social insurance number and defrauded the finance company of $41,940.

Under similar circumstances, Kristina test drove three vehicles at Lethbridge car dealers while pretending to be her victim, and she bought a 2014 Dodge Ram by defrauding Scotia Bank, who had extended her credit of $32,415.22.”

Police searched several locations and the couple’s home and found five printers used to make counterfeit documents. Inside the seized vehicles police found stolen property related to other police investigations, including I.D., keys, tools, phones, mail and licence plates, and they found during their investigation fake driver’s licences, bills of sale, fake cheques, banking documents, and even a semi-automatic rifle.

Although Judge F.C. Fisher said Zinger’s offences warranted more than a slap on the wrist, he acknowledged her guilty plea and noted she has a job, children and continues to receive counselling. He said she shows a “strong desire to move forward,” and jail would interrupt the progress she has made in her life since the offences.

For the first six months of Zinger’s 18-month conditional sentence she will be under house arrest. The remaining 12 months she must obey a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. There are some exceptions, however, for such things as shopping, working and attending medical appointments.

Zinger must complete 100 hours of community service, provide and sample of her DNA for the national DNA databank, and make restitution totalling nearly $36,000 to the financial institutions she defrauded. She is also prohibited from possessing weapons for the rest of her life.

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