News

Conditional sentence for stealing from high school fundraising account

The woman who stole nearly $23,000 from a high school band fund did so after her abusive alcoholic husband “demanded she find a way to pay the bills,” said Crown counsel Deborah Pope.
The court heard that between May 2010 and August 2011, Elizabeth Sherwood took $22,894.12 from the band fundraising account at Okanagan Mission Secondary School.
The theft was discovered after the band teacher tried to contact Sherwood, the fund treasurer, because the school district wanted schools to consolidate their bank accounts.
When he couldn’t reach Sherwood, the court heard, the teacher went to the bank and discovered discrepancies in the account, including cheques with his signature forged and other cheques that didn’t have the required second signature.
"Elizabeth Sherwood told police she “acted alone and no one in her family....knew what she was doing,” said Pope.
“There’s no words to express my deep regret for what I’ve done,” said a tearful Sherwood, who was previously convicted of theft in 1995. “I carry this guilt with me for this for the rest of my life.”
Sherwood, 48, has since left her abusive husband and “genuinely desires to repay the money that was taken,” said defence lawyer Andrew Vandersluys.
Both Crown and defence suggested a conditional sentence, and Judge James Threlfall agreed.
He sentenced Sherwood to an eight month conditional sentence, a jail sentence she can serve at home.
“The conditions are onerous,” said Threlfall, reminding Sherwood that if she breaches her conditions, she will have to finish her sentence in jail.
For the first two months, she will be confined to her house, except to go to work or medical and counselling appointments.
Other conditions include attending any assessments, counselling or programs that are ordered by her sentence supervisor.
After the conditional sentence, Sherwood will be on probation for 18 months. She has also been ordered to repay the money she took.
By Cheryl Wierda, Capital News contributor
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