By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 21, 2023.
Stealing more than $40,000 from a friend has earned a Lethbridge woman a custodial sentence, but one she can serve in the community instead of jail.
Cathy Marie Anderson was handed an 18-month conditional sentence order Wednesday in Lethbridge court of justice, the first half of which she must serve under house arrest, followed by eight months of curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“This is a position of trust that was abused,” Crown Prosecutor Bob Morrison said during Anderson’s sentencing hearing.
“Miss Anderson was engaged by a friend to help manage her finances, and given the sole access to (the victim’s) accounts, and took unauthorized withdrawals in the amount of $42,500 over a period of approximately seven years.”
Morrison said the breach of trust is aggravating, but on the mitigating side, Anderson did not have a criminal record and she has returned all the money she took.
Court was told Anderson previously pleaded guilty to one charge of theft over $5,000, but sentencing was adjourned to accommodate a family member’s surgery.
Lethbridge lawyer Miranda Hlady said Anderson made restitution shortly after her theft was discovered and before she was charged. Hlady also suggested her client always intended to pay back the money, and always had the money to make restitution, but failed to do so.
“She does understand that her behaviour was not appropriate,” Hlady said.
Justice Gregory Maxwell acknowledged Anderson’s guilty plea and that she had already made restitution, but he questioned her intentions before she was caught.
“The Crown prosecutor is right; the aggravating aspects of this are that you broke a trust that you had,” Maxwell said. “Given the size of fraud…and the duration, the number of times over those seven years; those are all aggravating factors where you had multiple opportunities to give consideration to what you were doing, and then stop it. If, in fact, your intention was always to pay it back, then continuing it for seven years doesn’t make a whole bunch of sense to the court.”
During the term of the conditional sentence order, Anderson is bound by several conditions, including she not have any contact with the woman from whom she stole the money. She must reside at a specific address on the westside, provide 20 hours of community service, and abstain from alcohol and drugs. Anderson, who must pay a $200 victim surcharge, is also prohibited from seeking employment, or volunteering for any position in which she would have control of real property, money or the security of anyone else.
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