Ni­cole McKin­non sen­tenced to house ar­rest for de­fraud­ing Cor­ner Brook Down­town Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion

For­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor or­dered to pay $63,557 resti­tu­tion

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - GARY KEAN [email protected]­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_GaryKean

COR­NER BROOK, N.L. — Lengthy jail time was once in­evitable for crimes such as those com­mit­ted by Ni­cole McKin­non.

But the provin­cial court judge who sen­tenced her to house ar­rest said in­sti­tu­tional in­car­cer­a­tion rarely hap­pens for such egre­gious breaches of trust.

Judge Wayne Gorman sen­tenced the for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cor­ner Brook Down­town Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion to 12 months of house ar­rest Sept. 9 for de­fraud­ing her em­ployer.

McKin­non had pleaded guilty to de­fraud­ing the DBA of more than $63,000 be­tween April and Oc­to­ber 2018. The charges in­cluded theft, fraud, pos­ses­sion of stolen cheques and breaches of court or­ders.

The thefts, which in­volved steal­ing gas and shoplift­ing from re­tail out­lets in Cor­ner Brook, and the court or­der vi­o­la­tions took place after McKin­non was ar­rested ear­lier this year.

In his writ­ten de­ci­sion on McKin­non’s sen­tence, Gorman used an ex­am­ple of Hu­bert Wal­ter Hunt, the for­mer ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager of Hick­man Equip­ment who was con­victed of de­fraud­ing his for­mer em­ployer of more than $1 mil­lion. In Septem­ber 2018, Hunt was sen­tenced in the Supreme Court of New­found­land and Labrador to serve a con­di­tional sen­tence of one year.

Gorman said McKin­non’s of­fences were still quite se­ri­ous and con­sti­tuted a sig­nif­i­cant breach of trust. The im­pact on the DBA, which has not re­sumed op­er­a­tions since sus­pend­ing them after re­al­iz­ing its cof­fers had been emp­tied last fall, has been dev­as­tat­ing.

In a vic­tim im­pact state­ment pro­vided to the court, the DBA said its 30-year his­tory of beau­ti­fy­ing and im­prov­ing the city’s down­town busi­ness district is now in jeop­ardy be­cause of McKin­non’s ac­tions. The not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, of which McKin­non was the sole paid em­ployee, said its vol­un­teer mem­bers have re­ported feel­ings of anx­i­ety, stress and other ef­fects on their men­tal health as they con­tend with the fall­out of these of­fences, while con­tin­u­ing to op­er­ate their own busi­nesses.

While the DBA is still un­cer­tain as to whether it will ever re­sume op­er­a­tions, the state­ment pro­vided to the court ex­pressed con­cerns about be­ing able to re­cruit new mem­bers and vol­un­teers in the fu­ture if it is re­vived.

“Ms. McKin­non was some­one that we thought of not only as an em­ployee, but also as a friend,” the state­ment read. “We val­ued her con­tri­bu­tion to the DBA and trusted her to as­sist the board in its work. The of­fences have brought about a sharp feel­ing of be­trayal and a sense of frus­tra­tion for the loss of a sig­nif­i­cant amount of funds which could have been used for the bet­ter­ment of our com­mu­nity.”

McKin­non made an emo­tional state­ment to the court last week, ex­plain­ing she stole the money to feed a drug ad­dic­tion. She had also told po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing her crimes that an ad­dic­tion to co­caine was be­hind the of­fences.

Gorman, how­ever, said there was no ev­i­dence pre­sented dur­ing her sen­tenc­ing hear­ing to sub­stan­ti­ate these claims. The judge said while a drug ad­dic­tion can be con­sid­ered a mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor when im­pos­ing a sen­tence, it was im­pos­si­ble to gauge what ad­dic­tion, if any, McKin­non suf­fered from or what ef­fect it had, if any, on her crim­i­nal­ity.

Gorman or­dered McKin­non to pay back the full amount of $63,557 to the DBA. Her lawyer had asked for no resti­tu­tion or­der or, if there was to be one, that it not be the full amount that went miss­ing.

Gorman said there was no ev­i­dence pre­sented that any­one else was re­spon­si­ble for the stolen funds. Fur­ther, he said, there is no rea­son why McKin­non, 31, would not be gain­fully em­ployed in the fu­ture and be in a po­si­tion to start pay­ing the money back.

Gorman cred­ited McKin­non with one month of time served for the time she has spent in jail await­ing her sen­tenc­ing, leav­ing her 11 months to serve on house ar­rest.

He opted not to give her pro­ba­tion.

Dur­ing her con­di­tional sen­tence, McKin­non will not be per­mit­ted to en­ter any build­ing in which the Cor­ner Brook Down­town Busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion is lo­cated. She is pro­hib­ited from en­ter­ing the stores from which she stole mer­chan­dise, in­clud­ing Do­min­ion, Cole­mans, Law­ton’s Drugs and Wal­mart.

She will also not be per­mit­ted in the next five years to vol­un­teer for a po­si­tion that in­volves hav­ing au­thor­ity over real prop­erty, money or valu­able se­cu­rity.

McKin­non still has some out­stand­ing mat­ters be­fore the court. She had en­tered not guilty pleas to charges of fraud and unau­tho­rized use of credit card data.

She had been set to go to trial on those charges Oct. 25. How­ever, a sched­ul­ing con­flict with the court has now re­sulted in that trial be­ing moved to Nov. 6.

FILE/THE WEST­ERN STAR

Ni­cole McKin­non en­ters provin­cial court in Cor­ner Brook in this file photo.

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