June 17th, 2024

Woman gets weekend jail time for theft


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 10, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 46-year-old woman who hoped to avoid jail, will have to spend time behind bars, but only on weekends.

“I was hoping for either weekends or maybe house arrest,” Julie Anne Vuch told the judge Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court.

Vuch said there is no one to care for her daughter if she is in jail every day, but her mother, who has cancer, would be able to care for the 10-year-old girl on weekends.

Vuch pleaded guilty last November to several charges of theft under $5,000, and single charges of possession of a stolen credit card, use of a stolen credit card, possession of stolen property under $5,000, and failure to comply with a recognizance.

She was sentenced Thursday to five-and-a-half months in jail, but given credit for time she spent in remand custody, leaving her with three months to serve. And even though the judge refused to let her serve her sentence in the community under house arrest, he said she can serve her sentence in jail on weekends.

Judge Gregory Maxwell said, however, he isn’t convinced Vuch was being honest with him and pointedly told her he doesn’t entirely trust her.

“I don’t know if I trust what you’ve said,” Maxwell said. “I hope that you have a responsibility for a 10-year-old, and you’re not just using that as an excuse.”

Vuch’s offences, which occurred over several months in 2020 and 2021, mostly relate to crimes of opportunity, and they were committed not long after she served 180 days in custody for similar offences.

Maxwell noted that even between the string of offences and subsequent arrests, she continued to commit crimes.

“Over and over and over again through the course of these offences, you’re charged, released, charged, released, charged, released, but it doesn’t change your conduct.”

Among her offences, Vuch stole a case containing a cellphone she saw sitting on a desk at the hospital, and used the credit cards she found inside the case. She also stole items from lockers at a swimming pool, lottery tickets from a couple of city businesses, and a purse during Whoop-Up Days.

“Some poor lady at Whoop-Up puts her purse on the ground, and you see that as an opportunity to take advantage of the situation.”

Vuch, who was suffering from a drug addiction at the time of her offences, will also be on probation for 12 months, during which she is to take counselling and treatment for substance abuse and life skills, and she is not to possess or consume alcohol and drugs.

Before concluding the matter, Maxwell reminded Vuch she is getting a break, and warned her she must arrive at the jail every Friday at 5 p.m., and not be under the influence of any intoxicating substance.

“What you need to understand is, I’m actually doing something that my better judgement says I shouldn’t. Whether you take advantage of that is entirely up to you.”

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