Former legion treasurer sentenced to house arrest for stealing $70,000
SYDNEY — A veteran of the Armed Forces and volunteer legion treasurer has been sentenced to 18 months house arrest for stealing $70,000 from the branch to feed his gambling problem.
Brian Fraser, 60, of Glencairn Avenue, pleaded guilty to a count of theft. He took the money from Royal Canadian Legion Branch 126 in Westmount between February 2005-December 2007, before he was confronted by other legion officials about irregularities in the bank accounts and he admitted his actions.
In passing sentence, provincial court Judge David Ryan noted Fraser breached the trust that was placed in him by the legion, and he took the money over a period of time.
“A lot of people worked awfully hard to put that money together and keep it there, and it was for a purpose, to assist veterans, and you abused that trust,” he said.
Ryan said he had some difficulty accepting the sentencing recommendations, noting there is an increased number of similar cases coming before the courts.
He also granted a restitution judgment of $66,400, which the legion can register against Fraser’s assets. Fraser must also pay $200 a month in restitution.
Crown prosecutor John MacDonald noted that Fraser had problems on and off with both alcohol and gambling. He started gambling in 1992, it became a regular habit in 1994, and in 2003 he began playing video lottery terminals at the legion. He also admitted to drinking alcohol there almost daily.
Fraser has since sought addiction counselling.
“I deeply regret my actions,” Fraser said.
He retired in 2003 after 32 years with the Canadian Forces, and served as treasurer with the legion branch for two years.
Defence attorney Guy LaFosse noted that Fraser admitted committing the theft as soon as he was confronted and has always intended to plead guilty to the charge. He cooperated fully with police and is remorseful. He came from a strong family background and his reputation was previously unblemished. It was alcohol and gambling that proved to be Fraser’s undoing.
The attention the offence has garnered has been embarrassing for Fraser and his family, LaFosse said.
Ryan agreed to the conditions sought by the Crown, including that Fraser stay away from the Westmount legion, not attend where alcohol is sold, stay away from casinos and not play VLTs while he is serving his conditional sentence, and that he take any counselling recommended to him.
He must also perform 200 hours of community service.
For the first 12 months of the conditional sentence, Fraser is to remain inside his home 24 hours a day, except to go to work or look for employment, for medical and legal appointments, to attend counselling or perform community service.
He is allowed a four-hour period each week to attend to personal needs and he can attend religious services once a week.
Anytime Fraser plans to leave his home, he must inform his case supervisor in advance. Ryan warned any breach would likely result in Fraser serving the rest of his sentence in jail.
For the final six months, Fraser will be subject to a curfew of 9 p.m.-7 a.m.