Sentencing for former employee of PIB business reveals $80,000 was stolen through 64 unauthorized deposits

$80,000 in forged funds

Sentencing for the woman charged in connection to forgery committed at a Penticton Indian Band owned business started on Wednesday afternoon, revealing just under $80,000 was stolen from the company.

Marnie Kruger, 53, appeared in court with multiple Penticton Indian Band (PIB) community members showing their support and some speaking on her behalf. 

Kruger had previously pleaded guilty to the single count of forgery in December of 2019. She had also been charged with destroying/altering a book to defraud and another count of fraud, but those counts will likely be stayed at the conclusion of sentencing. 

Crown prosecutor Garry Hansen presented the details of the incidents to Judge Monica McParland, who appeared over a video call to hear court proceedings. 

On July 6, 2017, Warren Houde, the manager for SFLP Forestry, called RCMP to report Kruger for defrauding the company by writing cheques to herself. Kruger worked at the company from 2011 to 2017 as an administrative assistant and a bookkeeper at the time. 

Houde grew suspicious when he spotted a piece of paper inside Kruger’s desk one day covered in practice attempts at his signature.

Cheques distributed from the company had to contain two signatures, either from Houde, Kruger or the current director. Houde also spotted pay stubs with his forged signature. 

A forensic audit was ordered which found that Kruger had managed to defraud the company through altering her hours to be greater than what she worked, writing out cheques to different people and then depositing them to multiple different accounts owned by herself. 

Court heart that in total, between 2013 and 2017, Kruger distributed 64 unauthorized checks totalling $79,716. The dates for which she is being charged, however, are from Sep. 1 2016 to July 1, 2017, with 43 unauthorized deposits totalling $62,089. 

On Jan. 17, 2018, Kruger met with executives and admitted to taking money and committing fraud, showing the multiple pay stubs she fabricated. 

Kruger also admitted to being addicted to drugs, alcohol and gambling, and that she harboured no money from the fraud, as she "drank and gambled it all away," according to the Crown. 

While Kruger has no prior criminal record, Crown stated that the significant amount defrauded from the PIB and the lengthy period over which it was stolen was an aggravating factor. 

“She was in a position of trust and abused that trust,” Hansen said. 

But Hansen outlined that the responsibility taken with the guilty plea, participation with the Restorative Justice Program in the PIB and the commitment to pay $60,000 she stole during the time period specified in her charges of Sept. 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017 showed remorse for her actions. 

“There is indication by the people in the room today that there is some support from the PIB for her,” he added.

Normally, a significant period of jail time would be charged in cases like this according to the Crown, but in view of the community support, Crown gave the recommendation for a lesser sentence. 

In a joint submission with defence, Crown asked for a nine month conditional sentence order, including mandatory house arrest between the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and a probation order to follow. 

Defence lawyer Norm Yates outlined Kruger’s promise to pay back the full amount she stole, as well as formally address and apologize to the community, directing it to the over 1,000 people she affected. 

Members of the PIB addressed McParland, supporting Kruger’s acknowledgement of her mistakes. 

Kruger spoke last to the courtroom, her voice shaky with emotion and tears as she addressed what she described as a betrayal to the community. 

“I took it upon myself to benefit and to gain,” she said, outlining that her gambling had taken over her life and it was a very dark time. 

Fellow members of the PIB began crying in court while Kruger ran through her mistakes and depression.

Kruger finished by stating she wanted to be held accountable for the damage she caused, and she believes her life truly started at 50, now being clean and sober almost three and half years. 

The continuation of sentencing and the rest of defence's submission to the court will continue at a later date. 

More Penticton News