A former Penticton bookkeeper, who pleaded guilty to fraud for embezzling more than $60,000 from her client, was handed an intermittent sentence Tuesday morning, facing a total of 90 days’ incarceration.
Judith Kendrick was confronted by her employer, Glen Erhardt, in March 2016 after she had gradually transferred $60-65,000 in over 120 transactions over the course of 13 months, between December 2014 and January 2016.
In sentencing Kendrick, Judge Gale Sinclair called the case “tailor-made for a conditional sentence order,” essentially house arrest.
“But Parliament, in its wisdom, said that this offence is not able to be resolved by way of conditional sentence order,” he said, noting principles of denunciation and rehabilitation were key in sentencing Kendrick.
“It would always be an easy thing to sentence her to six months’ imprisonment. The Crown is certainly not out of line in making that request. Nor is the defence unreasonable in asking that her sentence be suspended, and that Ms. Kendrick be placed on probation for the maximum of three years.”
The range of sentences for fraud over $5,000 is wide, Sinclair conceded, spanning from the suspended sentence suggested by defence lawyer James Pennington up to 10 years.
Kendrick’s psychiatric report made note of her lack of a reason for the crimes.
“(I was) just spending the money. There was no rhyme or reason. It was wrong and I shouldn’t have done it. I didn’t even think; it wasn’t me. I didn’t stop it,” Kendrick had said to evaluators in the psychiatric report, who considered Kendrick to be a “manageable” risk to the community.
Kendrick had been hired to manage Erhardt’s finances on the recommendation of a friend, before she began siphoning off money in what Pennington described as a “completely unsophisticated scheme.”
A second bookkeeper was hired to account for Erhardt’s struggles paying the bills, and Erhardt had been put under significant financial duress because of the thefts.
In a note to Erhardt after she was confronted by him, Kendrick said she would “do everything in my power to return this to you as soon as possible,” with an ICBC settlement coming down the pike at the time.
That money did go toward Erhardt, paying off part of a judge’s order that she pay a total of $140,000 in a civil case that ended last May.
“(Erhardt) deals with sleepless nights, he’s consumed with anger and mistrust, his relationship with his spouse deteriorated badly for quite some time,” Crown lawyer Ann Lerchs said in her sentencing position on Monday, referring to Erhardt’s victim impact statement.
Erhardt said he had to sell his house in Summerland and cash in a life insurance policy to help pay the bills and pay back the Canada Revenue Agency.
Sinclair sentenced Kendrick to 90 days in jail — the maximum for an intermittent sentence — to be served on weekends at the Penticton RCMP detachment.
As Sinclair made a no-contact order with Erhardt, Kendrick spoke up to say that he had been “harassing” her and her family on the phone.
“She’s not contacting him, but Mr. Erhardt is constantly badgering her,” Pennington said.
“She’ll have to deal with that,” Sinclair shot back. “If it becomes a harassment situation, she tells the police.”
Kendrick was also the source of some controversy in social media, after a confrontation with some young Indigenous community members she had accused of shoplifting escalated to an argument.
In a video, filmed at the Dollarama, she told them to “go back to the rez.”
Pennington said Kendrick lost her job over the incident, in which she “lost her cool.”