Kamloops fraudster appeals jail sentence | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops fraudster appeals jail sentence

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A convicted fraudster serving a year in jail for bilking her former employer out of thousands of dollars is appealing her sentence as she tries to get it reduced to house arrest.

Kamloops judge Stella Frame warned Michele Marie Huston's lawyer and a Crown prosecutor they were "fighting an uphill battle" when they proposed a conditional sentence earlier this year.

They had a month to return with supporting evidence for their house arrest proposal, but Frame decided to override their suggestion and sent Huston to spend a year behind bars.

READ MORE: Kamloops woman convicted of fraud sentenced to year in prison

"It was a family business where a man had died. A woman was going through grief and (Huston) was their support. It's horrific circumstances," Frame said at a June 29 hearing. "It's the most predatory fraud of an employer."

She embezzled more than $11,000 from her former employer, Kamloops Heating and Air Conditioning while working as a bookkeeper from July 2019 to January 2020. She was initially caught giving herself inflated overtime pay and unearned commission.

An audit later discovered she was using the company credit card, still in the name of the dead former owner, to buy electronics and hotel stays.

Her current sentence will include three years probation once she's released and a restitution order to repay the business.

READ MORE: Kamloops man guilty of sexually assaulting mother of newborn

On Sept. 22, Huston filed an appeal, looking to a higher court to affirm the conditional sentence lawyers jointly proposed.

Her appeal, filed by lawyer Daniel McNamee, claims Frame had "insufficient reasons" to override the conditional sentence.

Past Supreme Court of Canada cases make it difficult for judges to depart from a joint submission, and they must be proven to bring "disrepute" the justice system.

Huston won't be appealing her conviction, for which she already pleaded guilty earlier this year.

She remains in custody in the Alouette Correctional Centre, a women's only prison in Maple Ridge, where she's been since Sept. 6.

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