April 22, 2016 - 11:23 AM
VERNON - A man who defrauded banks, businesses and even friends of tens of thousands of dollars by using worthless cheques sobbed in court as a judge sentenced him to two-and-a-half years in prison.
Jeffrey White, 34, pleaded guilty to 24 counts of fraud committed in Armstrong, Vernon and Kamloops, and one charge of theft over $5,000 for stealing furniture from his landlord.
Provincial Court Judge Mayland McKimm described White’s offences, which were committed over roughly two years from June 2011 to May 2013, as deliberate, sophisticated and well-executed.
Some of the frauds involved opening up accounts at financial institutions including the Bank of Montreal and Bank of Nova Scotia, and depositing worthless cheques. He would then withdraw money from the accounts.
He also went on what McKimm called a spending spree at various businesses, including Staples, Simply Computing, Shoppers Drug Mart and the Armstrong Pharmacy, racking up thousands of dollars of purchases and paying for them with worthless cheques.
McKimm said White also “preyed upon personal friends or romantic partners” by asking them to cash phoney cheques.
One of White’s victims was a woman he rented a furnished unit from in 2012. McKimm described how the woman was forced to take steps to evict White, including going to the Residential Tenancy Branch, after he failed to pay the rent. Eventually, White did leave — taking all her furniture with him. In a victim impact statement, the woman said she has gone bankrupt as a result.
“His theft of the furniture to add injury to insult… is frankly shocking,” McKimm said.
White has had other brushes with the law in the past, including almost identical fraud offences in 2008, for which he was sentenced to 12 months in jail. McKimm noted that White struggled in the past with an addiction to prescription opiates, and relapsed in 2011 after suffering a serious injury and being prescribed opioids.
McKimm said White should have known that accepting the prescription would set off a “wave of criminal behaviour leaving a wake of victims behind.”
McKimm sentenced White, who sobbed during the hearing, to 905 days in jail and ordered him to pay roughly $70,000 in restitution back to banks, businesses and individual victims. Because White has already spent some time in custody, his sentence was reduced by 225 days, leaving him with 680 days of new time left to serve, or just under two years.
Following his incarceration, White will also face 24 months of probation and will not be allowed to possess cheques unless they are lawfully registered to him as a recipient.
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