This thief gets to leave home on conditional release to attend AA meetings!
Woman sentenced for bilking military out of $190,000
By Linda Richardson, Sault Star
A Sault Ste. Marie woman will serve a 20-month conditional sentence in the community for stealing more than $190,000 from the federal government.
But for the significant health and addiction issues at play during the time Crystal Charlebois-Miller defrauded her employer, she would be going to “real jail,” Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni said Thursday.
“It’s a close call,” he said, after noting “jail terms are the usual penalties” for cases of “fraud against the public at large.” But there “are cases with special circumstances that warrant jail time, but one served in the community,” the judge said. Charlebois-Miller, 52, bilked the Department of National Defence (DND) of $192,000 between December 2004 and May 2008. A former civilian employee at the Sault Armoury, she was a contracts and procurement officer for the DND’s Area Support Unit Northern Ontario.
Charlebois-Miller, who pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 at an earlier court appearance, changed and falsified documents to divert increasing amounts of money into her bank account. Buttazzoni described the offence as a “sophisticated fraud” involving a significant amount of money.
He cited the accused’s addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling and underling mental health issues among the special circumstances he considered in determining sentence. “This offence was not primarily motivated by greed, (although) clearly greed was a factor,” he said.
Since she was charged, Charlebois-Miller has been participating in treatment and counselling programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous.She has “dealt admirably with her addiction issues” and that “leads me to the conclusion she will not be a risk to the public,” Buttazzoni said.
During a sentencing hearing in March, prosecutor Michael Varpio called for a jail sentence of 18 months to two years less a day. This was a sophisticated, well-planned theft, where Charlebois-Miller systematically changed paperwork so she could take money over a period of time, the assistant Crown attorney said.
Defence counsel Wayne Chorney asked the judge to impose a 20-month conditional sentence. He described his client as suffering from a “cocktail of problems,” including a severe gambling addiction, a prescription drug habit and alcohol issues, at the time of the offence. Charlebois-Miller has lost a good job, her marriage and her reputation, he said. A public service employee for 22 years, she has had approximately $99,000 from her pension clawed back by the government.
As well, Revenue Canada is pursuing her for about $30,000. On Thursday, Buttazzoni imposed a stand-alone restitution order, which can be enforced in civil court, requiring Charlebois-Miller to repay $92,082 to DND.
During the first 12 months of her conditional sentence, she can only leave her residence for medical appointments and emergencies, employment purposes, counselling, attending AA meetings and to perform community service hours. She is permitted to be away from home from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays to deal with personal matters.
During the remaining eight months, she will have a 9 p.m.-to-7 p.m. curfew. While serving the conditional sentence, Charlebois-Miller must do 200 hours of community service. Once she completes the sentence, she will be on probation for 12 months with conditions that include completing a further 50 hours of community service.