The Facts: Pamela B. had worked as an accountant at a medium-sized family-owned company in Toronto for 12 years. As a long-time employee, she had been entrusted with a great deal of control over the company’s chequebooks and payroll. Pamela had developed an addiction to cocaine and in recent years had begun defrauding the company by siphoning off small amounts of money from the company. Over time the amounts of money became larger and more difficult to conceal. One day, Pamela’s mother passed away and she was away from the office for a few days. A manager with payroll experience took over during her absence and noted a number of irregularities in the accounts. Forensic accountants were brought in, and then the police were called. Pamela B., confronted by the owners of the company, broke down and confessed to the fraud and her addiction. Nevertheless, she was charged with defrauding the company of $85,000.
The Defence Strategy: Given that Pamela had confessed to her employers before consulting counsel, there was little chance of avoiding a conviction. Instead, we worked with Pamela to get her help with her addiction, and to begin to save money to make restitution to the company. We began discussing the matter with the Crown at an early stage, keeping them up-to-date on Pamela’s rehabilitation. She was very remorseful, and even though the offence was considered a breach of trust, we sought to avoid a jail term.
The Result: Because of Pamela’s persistence and dedication to rehabilitation and restitution, and our negotiations with the Crown, we were in an excellent position to meet with the judge at a judicial pre-trial, where we discussed and mediated the issues. Despite the breach of trust, the Crown and the judge were persuaded to agree not to impose a jail sentence, and Pamela was able to find new work and save up to repay her former employer as part of a probation order. She also successfully completed rehabilitation and beat her drug addiction.Back
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