Fraudster gets conditional sentence for Summerland cheque cashing scam | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton News

Fraudster gets conditional sentence for Summerland cheque cashing scam

A self-described red seal painter faces a six month community jail sentence as well as having to pay back $3,840 worth of fraudulently written cheques after being sentenced in Penticton court Friday, March 3, 2017.

PENTICTON - A man who used a Summerland organization’s chequebook to write cheques to himself will serve a  six month community sentence for his crime.

James Michael Peters was sentenced in Penticton court Friday, March 3, after entering a guilty plea to one count of fraud stemming from the June  2014 incident, when organizers of the Summerland Fall Fair, a non-profit organization, discovered a chequebook had been misplaced.

Crown Prosecutor Ann Lerchs told court that three cheques written without authorization, made payable to Michael Peters, were discovered on July 16, 2014.

The rest of the cheques were cancelled immediately, but four cheques in the amount of $980, $1,200, $860, and $800 were cashed by Peters.

One of the cheques was cashed at the Penticton Money Mart on June 24, 2014. Police attended the business and discovered Peters used his passport for identification to cash a cheque for $860.

Lerchs said Peters’ previous record included property offences and five bank robberies, adding his pre-sentence report was not a positive one. She recommended a four month jail term and 12 months probation, in addition to paying restitution.

Defence lawyer Michael Patterson said the last time Peters was in court was for a driving while prohibited charge in 2013. He said his client has been staying out of trouble, and intends to follow court orders.

“I was very surprised by the candid remarks in the pre-sentence report about the bank robberies, and I must say those are hyperboles,” he said, adding it never does anyone any good to exaggerate circumstances on a pre-sentence report.

He said his client had an ability to be self-sustaining outside of crime, and that Peters was a master painter by trade. He asked Judge Gale Sinclair to consider a six month conditional sentence and 24 months probation.

Peters, who was in the courtroom,  told Judge Gale Sinclair he hadn’t intended his court case to take three years to resolve, adding he had faithfully travelled back and forth from the coast to attend hearings in Penticton during that time.

He said he took full responsibility for the fraud, adding the cheques he cashed were "painting related.” The self-described Red Seal painter said he would be painting for a living now, but a back injury and upcoming surgery has prevented him from working.

“I understand I was negligent, I understand there were precautionary procedures that I could have been involved with that would have deterred me from being in these circumstances,” he told the judge.

Judge Sinclair said Peters had paid his debt to society for his previous convictions for the bank robberies, which took place over a three year period starting in 2005.

“Given the circumstances and your health situation, there’s got to be a jail sentence, but it will be jail in the community. If you screw it up, it will be real jail. That’s what’s hanging over your head,” Judge Sinclair said, handing down a sentence of six months community jail time, followed by 18 months probation.

Peters must also make restitution in the amount of $3,840 to the Summerland Exhibition Association.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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