December 03, 2014 - 5:10 PM
"IT MAKES ME WONDER HOW I FELL FOR HER THE LAST TIME:" JUDGE
VERNON - A former accountant who tried to cash a forged cheque grew more sophisticated in her ploys since her last court appearance for fraud, a Vernon provincial court judge said.
Abigail Marie Mcelman, 36, was arrested at Vernon’s Venue Financial Centre on Highway 6 Dec. 18, 2013 after trying to cash a $3,153 cheque she’d made on her computer and printed that morning. She was also in possession of a fake driver’s license and birth certificate.
Mcelman thought things through, but not enough to get away with it. Beyond designing and printing the fake cheque that morning, she organized for a friend to pose as the person issuing the cheque. As part of the financial centre’s policy, the clerk did indeed call the number and speak to the friend, but something seemed suspicious. The green tinge on the cheque—not typical on Royal Bank cheques—gave Mcelman away.
Crown counsel Margaret Cissell said the scheme wasn’t spontaneous, but well planned. At the time of the offense, Mcelman was already serving a conditional sentence order for an earlier fraud offense. Nothing seemed to stop her.
Several months after her arrest at the financial centre, Mcelman attempted a ploy at the Bay Centre in Vernon. She was caught on the store’s video surveillance pulling the tag off a $358 duvet and trying to return it with a fake receipt from the Bay in Kamloops.
Mcelman also tried to pull of a scheme at Walmart, where she concealed a $219 speaker unit in a box of Tupperware.
Defence lawyer Blaine Weststrate said Mcelman’s actions were complicated by a crystal meth addiction. Not long ago, she led a good life working as a business analyst, but things went downhill when her marriage fell apart and she started stealing and doing drugs.
“She’s anxious to get this behind her and press the reset button,” Weststrate said.
Judge Anne Wallace, who sentenced Mcelman on an earlier fraud matter, said she went light on her before.
“It makes me wonder how I fell for her the last time,” Wallace said. “I had a lot of sympathy for her and exercised a great deal of mercy towards her.”
Wallace said because this was a repeat offense, she needed to make an example of it for the purposes of denunciation and deterrence.
“I don’t know what is going on in your mind. Maybe because the sentence was pretty lenient last time around you didn’t take it seriously,” Wallace said.
Wallace handed Mcelman six months in jail and told her she didn’t want to see her back in court again.
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