A payroll administrator who defrauded a Burnaby security company of nearly $35,000 has been handed a six-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay back half the money.
Surrey resident Alecia Cruz, 29, pleaded guilty in June to one count of fraud over $5,000 in relation to a series of bogus cheques she wrote between June 7 and Dec. 23 in 2019 while she was a payroll and benefits administrator at Paladin Security, according to facts presented in Vancouver provincial court Thursday.
Cruz had worked at the company for several months.
“After she left, the company discovered that she had generated 35 cheques totalling $34,566.60, where she had altered the payee to her co-accused partner’s name, Joel Morgan,” Crown prosecutor Elise McCormick said.
Morgan, who has also pleaded guilty in the case but hasn’t been sentenced, was Cruz’s common-law partner, according to McCormick.
Bank records later showed Morgan had cashed the cheques, kept some of the money and given some to Cruz.
In a joint submission, McCormick and defence lawyer Adrian Picard called for a six-month sentence to be served in the community as well as a restitution order in the amount of $17,283.30.
Picard said Cruz had gotten into debt and was also supporting Morgan, who is now 35 years old, at the time of the fraud.
B.C. provincial court Judge Patricia Stark accepted the joint submission.
The most egregious part of the crime, she said, was that Cruz had been in a position of trust at Paladin.
“That company not only gave you employment, they trusted you. You had access to funds and you took them, and you took a lot.” Stark said to Cruz.
But Stark also noted Cruz didn’t have a prior criminal record, had taken responsibility for her actions, was prepared to make amends and was a good candidate for rehabilitation.
Stark also noted the fraud scheme hadn’t been a sophisticated one.
“It was obviously and inevitably easy to discover and to trace, and that’s what happened,” she said.
During her sentence, Cruz will be subject to a 9 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew and other conditions.
Morgan’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 12 in Vancouver provincial court.
Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor