Susan Gail Leuenberger of Houston will pay a maximum of $638,991.10 to Kyah Industries Ltd. (KIL) after Judge Calvin Struyk decided on the amount during a pre-sentencing-post-conviction hearing in Smithers last Thursday.
Last Thursday was set to be a final sentencing hearing for Leuenberger, found guilty of fraud of more than $5,000 in September for her KIL bookkeeping work from 1999 to 2004.
However, her lawyer, Ian Lawson, obtained an adjournment to determine the amount Leuenberger would have to repay KIL.
Judge Struyk will determine the actual amount at Leuenberger’s next court appearance scheduled for March 7, 2013.
During last Thursday’s hearing Lawson attempted to ensure his client would have to pay the least amount possible.
“The Court, when deciding amount of theft, should never guess,” Lawson said to Judge Struyk.
“The Crown failed to prove my client overcharged for work done.”
Lawson claimed the remuneration Leuenberger was due for management and bookkeeping work done over a seven-year period actually exceeded the amount being sought by KIL.
“A bookkeeper doesn’t normally run a company,” Lawson said.
Judge Struyk, after learning the argument asked Lawson for clarification.
“So, what you’re asking me to do is give [Leuenberger] credit?” Struyk asked.
“No, but you can’t ignore that she did work,” Lawson replied.
With Lawson’s petition complete Crown Counsel Stephen Cooke took his turn to speak to the Court and focused on criminal definition of fraud.
“What matters here is that the payments were not authorized,” Cooke said about cheques Leuenberger issued to herself between 1999 and 2004.
“It was more than just smoke.”
“It was deceit.”
Judge Struyk, after a brief intermission, made sure there were no misconceptions regarding his decision.
“I don’t question that she has done good work in her life,” Struyk said,
“But, I don’t accept the appeal to provide money for work completed.”
“This case is done.”
Struyk referenced a 1995 precedent that found the main entities present in fraud to be deception along with depriving a person or organization of goods or material.
Judge Struyk added he finds all evidence given by Leuenberger to be questionable based on her changing records after the official RCMP investigation began and her rigid adherence to only paying herself what she thought was owed.
Outside of the courtroom, KIL employees voiced their approval of the Judge’s decision.
“I think he went the right way,” Alphonse Gagnon, KIL safety officer, said.
“I’d like to see both jail time and money.”