PENTICTON - A Penticton bookkeeper will have to pay back much more than she took after admitting to improperly taking money from a client, according to a judgment handed down in Kelowna court last month.
Justice Miriam Maisonville awarded Penticton businessman Glen Erhardt a total of $140,134.42 in pecuniary, aggravated and punitive damages from contract bookkeeper Judith Kendrick after she admitted to taking more than $105,000 while acting as Erhardt’s bookkeeper from 2014 through early 2016.
Erhardt, a delivery driver contracting with Purolator to deliver packages in the Penticton area, hired Kendrick on the advice of a customer who used Kendrick’s bookkeeping services.
Erhardt began noticing problems with his accounts towards the end of 2015 and early 2016.
After confronting Kendrick about the matter, the two met in a parking lot at Cherry Lane Mall on Jan. 27, 2016.
Kendrick admitted her guilt and signed a note and an apology and promised to pay him back.
However, Kendrick failed to appear at the summary trial in addition to issuing a counterclaim which she failed to proceed on.
The judge found Kendrick conducted an unsophisticated fraud of simply making electronic transfers to herself from various accounts of his.
The judge noted the crime had a profound toll on Erhardt’s life. He told the court he was forced to delay retirement and had to scale back his standard of life.
He was forced to sell a home in Summerland, cashed in his life insurance policy and sold his Seadoos.
"I’ve spent many nights lying awake over this, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I feel sick to my stomach when I think about it," he told the court. "I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up over what happened. I feel foolish for the trust that I placed in Ms. Kendrick and the way that I let her take advantage of me."
The judge seemed perplexed by a lack of action from Penticton RCMP on the matter.
"As a consequence of the theft and the fraud, the plaintiff reported the theft to the RCMP on March 11, 2016 and attended at the Penticton RCMP on March 12, 2016," Maisonville wrote. "For whatever reason, no action has been taken by the Penticton RCMP, despite the plaintiff having made a statement to a constable there."
Psychologically, he said he felt foolish for placing his trust in Kendrick and was now suspicious of people he met.
Judge Maisonville found Kendrick unjustly enriched herself and breached her fiduciary duty, awarding Erhardt $105,134.42 in pecuniary damages, $15,000 in aggravated damages, and $20,000 in punitive damages in a decison handed down on April 6.
Kendrick's counterclaim was dismissed. Kendrick appears to be in bankruptcy proceedings so it's not clear how much money Erhardt will get from the judgment.
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