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A woman who admitted to defrauding the Employment and Income Assistance program out of more than $80,000 has been sentenced to 18 months of house arrest.
Candace Bone, 49, pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud over $5,000 in Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench, and was sentenced earlier this week.
“There is nothing unusual in the accused’s actions for this type of crime,” Justice Robert Cummings said on Monday. “She declared that she was unemployed during the relevant amount of time when she was working.”
In January 2007, Bone and her husband applied for EIA through Westman Brandon Family Services and Labour, according to a pre-sentence report, where they were both advised the EIA program requires an extensive review each year, reporting any income or change in circumstances as soon as possible while receiving EIA benefits.
At the time, Bone was working at Zellers and reported as such until the next year, the report said. From 2008 to 2013, Bone filed her paperwork each year stating she was not employed.
In October 2013, a case counsellor with the EIA received information that she had landed a job at Tim Hortons, the report said. She told EIA officials she had started working at Tim Hortons a couple of months prior, and submitted pay stubs starting from Aug. 8, 2013, upon request.
However, the case counsellor noticed her year-to-date earnings showed a gross salary of $10,841.80 — disproportionately higher than what someone would expect to earn in a two-month period at Bone’s hourly wage.
An EIA investigator contacted Tim Hortons, which confirmed that Bone had not started in August 2013, but in April 2010 — more than three years earlier than she reported.
Working with the Canada Revenue Agency, the investigator learned that Bone claimed to have earned only $531.38 in 2008 with no income each year beyond that to 2012. In fact, Bone earned almost $89,000 in that five-year span, resulting in a total EIA overpayment of $80,574.66.
In the report, she said she felt “horrible” and “stupid” about the offence, telling the interviewer that other people had encouraged her to do it, telling her she “would not get caught.”
Bone has also accepted responsibility for her actions and has paid back more than $10,000 in restitution as of October 2017.
Crown attorney Deidre Badcock asked the court to consider sending Bone to jail due to the prolonged nature of the offence and her criminal history, which shows a pattern of financial and fraudulent activity.
In the name of restitution, however, Cummings sentenced Bone to an 18-month conditional sentence.
“Ms. Bone has made restitution on two prior occasions to those she has harmed. There is every prospect that restitution will be made back to the people of Manitoba for these offences,” Cummings said. “The only event that could interrupt restitution payments would be the loss of her employment, which would certainly happen if she is placed in a jail cell … The reality is, if (Bone) is left in the community, there is a much higher likelihood that restitution will be paid.”
In addition to paying back an outstanding $70,548.47, Bone was also handed approximately $1,800 in fines.
Read the original story over at the Brandon Sun.