Penticton bookkeeper may face jail time for embezzlement

Sentencing stances ranged from three years of probation to six months in jail for $60k embezzlement

Penticton bookkeeper may face jail time for embezzlement

Sentencing is up in the air for a Penticton bookkeeper who was arrested for embezzling about $65,000 from her client in 2016.

Judith Kendrick could spend some time in jail for one count of fraud, after her client, Glen Erhardt, went to police over the incident in March 2016.

Over the course of 13 months and 120 transactions, Kendrick had embezzled about $65,000 from Erhardt, who first found out about the issue after hiring another bookkeeper to help him determine why he was having troubles paying his bills.

Related: Bookkeeper ordered to pay back over $140,000

Kendrick had been hired to pay his bills and pay his taxes, but instead she began paying money directly into her own account, something defence lawyer James Pennington called a “completely unsophisticated scheme.”

After the second bookkeeper found the source of Erhardt’s money woes, he confronted Kendrick about the issue, and she handed him a note, which admitted to the crime and promised to pay the money back.

Pennington told the court Kendrick had been going through a separation with her partner at the time and she had been suffering from depression, something she still struggles with.

On top of that, she had reportedly been in a car crash, and in her note to Erhardt, she said she would pay him back in full after she received her settlement from ICBC.

“I will do everything in my power to return this to you as soon as possible,” Crown lawyer Ann Lerchs said, reading from Kendrick’s letter, a copy of which had been filed with the police.

At the time of the letter, Kendrick said she could pay him $900 in short time, and when she was able to sell her vehicle, she would send all the money toward Erhardt.

In May last year, Kendrick was ordered to pay $140,000 in damages to Erhardt in a civil case, in which the total amount taken from Erhardt was determined to be over $105,000, between money transferred to her own account and money transferred to other accounts.

Lerchs said the $65,000 has been paid back, but the remainder of the money was still outstanding.

“He deals with sleepless nights, he’s consumed with anger and mistrust, his relationship with his spouse deteriorated badly for quite some time,” Lerchs said, referring to Erhardt’s victim impact statement.

Erhardt, who had been expecting to retire soon until the thefts came to light, also said he had to sell his house in Summerland to pay the bills and cash in his life insurance policy.

Lerchs acknowledged that Kendrick offered full co-operation with the police — “to say she co-operated is really an understatement,” Pennington said — including providing full documentation of the crime, and appeared fully remorseful of the crime. But Lerchs said where the mitigating factors stopped “a number” of aggravating factors began.

“What is aggravating is the amount of money that has been taken,” she said. “There was a large number of transactions. Approximately 120 separate and distinct transactions over a period of many months. … This was not a one-off, but something that occurred repeatedly over months and months.”

Pennington countered that the lack of sophistication of the embezzlement was mitigating, as it showed she wasn’t trying to take extra efforts to hide the crimes.

He added Kendrick is not likely to reoffend, with little criminal record to speak of, and has been heavily punished through the public.

“She has essentially been crucified on social media,” he said.

Though Lerchs is seeking six months in jail for the crime, Pennington suggested a three-year suspended sentence — effectively probation. If jail time is to be served, he asked for an intermittent sentence.

Judge Gale Sinclair is set to make his judgement on Tuesday.


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

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