New federal legislation means a Calgary judge must consider house arrest as a possible punishment for a woman who defrauded a children’s charity of more than $450,000, a prosecutor said Monday.
But Crown attorney Steven Johnston said even if Judge Bruce Fraser were to consider a conditional sentence (CSO) for Nicole Mann, he should reject it outright.
Defense lawyer David Roper suggested the provincial court judge could give Mann a CSO of two years less a day, followed by three years probation.
Roper said Fraser could even order Mann to be under house arrest while on probation, effectively locking her up in her own home for five years.
But Johnston said while that term is appropriate, it should be served behind real bars.
The prosecutor said Mann’s scheme, in which she forged 90 checks from the Colliers Cares Foundation, which gives mainly to children’s charities, warranted a sentence in excess of the maximum two-year eligibility for CSOs.
Parliament recently passed legislation making such sentences available for crimes like Mann’s, but Johnston said that still did not make it an appropriate punishment.
He noted Mann’s fraud was not a single act.
“It happened over, and over, and over again,” Johnston said.
“She kept going… the only reason she stopped was because she got caught.”
Fraser found Mann guilty of fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime in September, rejecting her claim that the sums paid to her were money to keep her quiet about inappropriate sexual behavior towards her by Colliers’ employees.
Mann testified that Chris Law, a shareholder and partner at Colliers CMN Calgary, the real estate brokerage firm that founded the charity and a contributor to the foundation, paid her the money to keep quiet.
But Fraser said it made no sense that Law would actually steal from the charity to pay Mann money to cover up allegations against other employees, including a claim that she was raped by one.
Mann also claimed some of the 90 checks allegedly signed by Law were to “top up” her salary.
“Her version is simply not plausible.
“It is not plausible that Mr. Law would take it upon himself to supplement her salary by stealing from a charitable fund that he was instrumental in creating,” Fraser said in his written ruling.
“There is no support or corroboration that she was sexually assaulted and paid to remain silent. It makes no sense that she would be secretly paid from a charity fund for any reason.”
Roper argued that sparing Mann actual custody would allow her to continue working and begin paying restitution for the $456,685 she stole.
A date for Fraser’s sentencing decision will be set Wednesday.
On Twitter: @KMartinCourts