A Manitoba woman who stole more than $40,000 from a community college student association and a non-profit group that helps the physically and mentally challenged has been given a conditional sentence.
Alanna Hillis will spend two years less a day under house arrest after pleading guilty to theft and fraud charges. Hillis stole approximately $26,000 while acting as an adviser for the Assiniboine Community College Students’ Association. She was employed as a secretary at the college at the time.
Before that job, she held a position with Brandon Citizen Advocacy. She stole about $27,000 from the charitable organization, which is now more than $10,000 in debt.
Judge John Combs called the number of thefts “mind-boggling.” “Hillis’ actions have contributed … to the demise of one organization and the tremendous hardship of another organization,” he said Thursday.
Crown attorney Jim Ross said Hillis stole with a mix of good intentions and selfishness. In some cases, Hillis wrote cheques for legitimate purposes, but made the amount much larger than needed and pocketed the remainder, said Ross. She wrote more than 50 cheques to herself between 2004 and 2007, Ross said, noting Hillis also repaid $12,000 to the students association during that time.
“What she was doing was repaying some money as she stole it,” Ross said. Students’ Association executive director Shauna Leckie said in a victim impact statement that Hillis’ actions had a profound emotional impact on students and staff at the school. Leckie said one staff member was “mortified, sickened and embarrassed” to realize she had been manipulated into signing fraudulent cheques for Hillis.
“She was supposed to be a mentor … setting a positive example,” she said.
Speaking through tears, Hillis told court she was sorry from the bottom of her heart. “I’m not a bad person, I was a stupid person and got caught … I just ask for a fair sentence and an opportunity to pay this money back.”
Defence attorney Bob Harrison said Hillis, who has no criminal record, has made positive changes to her lifestyle, and is unlikely to reoffend. “I can tell you she is very ashamed of herself,” Harrison said.
Hillis will be confined to her house 24 hours per day except for activities such as work and counselling. She is also required to perform 150 hours of community service and pay $750 in restitution every 15 days. Hillis owes $27,000 to Brandon Citizen Advocacy and approximately $14,000 to the college.
– with a report from CP