Jury finds Okanagan women guilty of teaching fraudulent tax scheme that cost government millions

KELOWNA – Two Okanagan women who helped defraud the Canadian government of roughly $200 million in taxes have been found guilty of all charges by a jury in Kelowna Supreme Court.

Donna Marie Stancer and Deanna Lynn Lavalley were both charged with making false statements in their own personal income tax returns, counselling others to commit fraud over $5,000 and defrauding the government of more than $5,000.

The trial ended July 3 after the women took the stand in their own defence saying they thought they had found a loophole in the system that allowed them to claim refunds on personal expenses and debts. In 2010 they started a tax consultation company called DeMara Consulting Inc. that used The Remedy, as it is called, to coach 224 clients to do the same.

Lavalley, from Kelowna, and Stancer, from Vernon, first met in 2008 at Rapid Tax Centre in Rutland.

Lavalley was found guilty of making false statements in her income tax returns for the years 2007 to 2010, claiming false capital and business losses totaling more than $450,000 and claiming false capital and business losses in the income tax returns of other persons in order to obtain refunds totaling close to $10 million.

Stancer is guilty of making false statements in her tax returns for the years 2007 and 2010 by claiming false capital and business losses totalling more than $1.8 million and counselling others to commit fraud in excess of $5,000.

“I trusted Marie (Stancer), I didn’t know that much about businesses,” Lavalley said in court. “It was understood that I would do the paperwork, the administration of the business. I had no interest in the tax side.”

For her contribution, she, like Stancer, took a personal salary of between $5,000 and $7,000 a month.

“I thought it was great, I’d never made that kind of money,” she said in court.

They will be sentenced at a later date.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at aproskiw@infonews.ca or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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