KAMLOOPS - A former bookkeeper and manager for the Kamloops Golf & Country Club will spend the next six months on house arrest after pleading guilty to using her company credit card for more than $51,000 in personal purchases.
Michelle Olson, 43, has received a 12-month conditional sentence for one count each of fraud and theft, the first half of which will be spent inside her home.
Olson started working at the golf course as a dishwasher when she was 15. She moved up to waitress, bartender, cart girl, bookkeeper and eventually clubhouse manager.
Crown lawyer J. Brian McKinley told a Kamloops Supreme Court room today, June 6, that in March 2013, the company discovered Olson used her company credit card for personal expenses between March 2011 and January 2013.
McKinley told the court it was a huge loss to the clubhouse, and the company was not solid financially at the time.
Olson owned up to her crime immediately, and pleaded guilty to the charges in April. She sold her home in Kamloops, where she was born and raised, in order to pay restitution to the insurance company.
Some of the expenses included luxury purchases, like restaurant meals, hotel rooms, and clothes.
Defence lawyer Don Campbell told the courtroom Olson had been going through an intense period of stress at the time of her crime. Her husband had become disabled and could no longer work, her teenage son and stepson had been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, and she could not do anything without bringing her youngest daughter along.
Olson also had underlying mental health issues, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly after her spending scandal.
Supreme Court Judge Gary Weatherill noted Olson had a clean criminal record, and understood the amount of stress she was under could lead to drastic decisions.
"You made a mistake and it was an unfortunate mistake," Weatherill said. "I can understand it but I don't condone it. You have accepted responsibility for what you did."
Olson spoke in the courtroom in between sobs. She apologized for her mistakes and spoke about how much this has impacted her life.
"My actions have let down so many people in my life. I am so sorry. I wish I could take it back but I can't," Olson said. "My actions caused me to lose my second family. My actions alone."
Olson told the court how she had her baby showers at the golf course, and even got married there. Her and her family have since moved to Kelowna because, she says, "she can't walk down the street in Kamloops without being recognized."
Crown and defence entered a joint submission which Weatherill accepted. Olson will remain in her house for six months other than attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, driving her daughter to and from school and extracurricular activities and medical appointments. For the next six months of her sentence she will be under a curfew from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
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