For­mer le­gion trea­surer sen­tenced to house ar­rest for steal­ing $70,000

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

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.

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