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Crown wants 6 years in jail for Kelowna woman guilty of $1.3M fraud

Carey Earl has been found guilty of defrauding Access Human Resources, an agency that helps adults with disabilities
Former bookkeeper Carey Earl defrauded the Kelowna-based social services organization, Access Human Resources, of $1.35 million over 10 years. (Access Human Resources)

A Kelowna senior will have to wait to hear how long she will spend in prison after being found guilty of stealing approximately $1.3 million from her employers.

Carey Earl was found guilty of stealing from Access Human Resources, a community agency that provides services and support to people with cognitive and physical disabilities, after a criminal trial that took place in the fall of 2023.

On Oct. 25, a 12-person jury in a B.C. Supreme Courtroom in Kelowna unanimously found Carey Earl guilty of fraud over $5,000, in relation to the misappropriation of funds.

Earl embezzled approximately $1.3 million between 2010 and 2018, while she was acting as the bookkeeper at Access Human Resources.

READ MORE: Kelowna woman on trial for fraud, theft of $1.8 million

The Kelowna-based community support agency initially filed a Civil Suit against Earl in the Supreme Court of B.C., in November 2018, after discovering inconsistencies in the bookkeeping. In February 2019, Earl filed a response to the Civil Claim and denied all allegations of theft, misappropriation and embezzlement. She also alleged that all transactions or payments made from corporate funds had to be approved by both herself and the owner and operating director of the company, Cliff Andrsuko. In a response to the suit, Earl alleged that it was “commonly understood” between herself and Andrsuko that company funds could be used for their “personal benefit.” Also in the response, Earl stated that if she had stolen, misappropriated or embezzled any funds, Andrsuko would have hypothetically agreed to the acts as she alleged he was also engaging in similar conduct and behaviour.

Crown filed criminal charges against Earl in 2022, and the case went to trial in the fall of 2023 in front of a 12 person jury.

While Earl has denied allegations of theft and fraud, she did not take the stand during the trial to give testimony.

Andrsuko, however, took the stand as a witness during the trial and remained steadfast in saying that he had never misappropriated any money. He also stated that he was unaware of the money Earl had been stealing until it was revealed to him in 2018.

Earl allegedly charged the money to her credit card and used the misappropriated funds to purchase property and recreational vehicles.

The jury ultimately decided that Earl was guilty of fraud over $5,000, which is considered an indictable offence in the Criminal Code of Canada, meaning that it is considered a serious crime and is associated with severe penalties.

On April 19, Earl sat in the prisoner’s box while a gallery full of observers filled a Kelowna courtroom to hear final sentencing submissions given to Justice Weatherill by Crown and defence.

Earl’s defence lawyer, Mark Chiu, argued that there was implicit authorization by Andrsuko of the money that Earl misappropriated.

“He’s not saying do it, but he knows,” alleged Chiu.

He also said Earl’s actions in carrying out the theft and fraud were “not sophisticated.” Chiu said Earl had not falsified any cheques or documents and there was “no effort to conceal the fraud.”

Prosecutor Andrew McLean reiterated Crown’s position that Andrsuko was in no way aware of or complicit in the fraud.

Additionally, McLean stated that there is no evidence to support the theory that any of the $1.35 million that Earl stole was authorized by Andrsuko.

Crown has requested that Earl be sentenced to six years in prison, while defence has submitted that the accused should serve two years less a day.

Chiu said that as Earl is sick, is 62 years old and is unable to work or earn an income, she should serve less time in prison and should not be required to pay restitution.

“Who is going to hire her? How is she going to defraud another company?” Asked Chiu about the future risk that Earl poses to society.

After submissions were entered, Justice Weatherill asked Earl, who has not spoken at all throughout the trial, if she would like to say anything.

Earl stood and said with a quiet voice that she hoped the Justice would consider all available evidence when making his decision.

Court will reconvene on May 13, to fix a date for sentencing.

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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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