The former Penticton Minor Hockey Association referee in chief was found to be offside in his dealings with their money.
Glenn Charbonneau, 40, who worked as the interim referee in chief in chief in 2015, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud under $5,000 on Monday at Penticton provincial court. Charbonneau will serve a conditional sentence order of six months, in which he must remain at his residence for the first three months except to attend work or as permitted by his supervisor and will be under a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the last three months. He is also to have no contact with anyone he knows is involved or believes to be involved with the Penticton Minor Hockey Association.
“This will undoubtedly haunt him for the rest of his life,” said defence counsel Norman Yates. “It has already affected his children, it has already affected his relationship through family members … he has a long road ahead of him to try to deal with this.”
RCMP began an investigation after the Penticton Minor Hockey Association contacted them regarding payments which were not made to 10 referees, most of them between the ages of 11 to 17.
The issue was brought to the association’s attention when a parent of one of the referees said her son had not received a cheque he was owed after two months of asking for it from Charbonneau. The parent had been given several excuses from Charboneau as to why the referee hadn’t received payment, including the cheque was in his truck in another province, he was distracted with family issues and finally they were told an e-transfer was sent. However, the e-transfer was never received.
Crown counsel Nashina Devji, who had asked for a conditional sentence order of nine to 12 months, said the treasurer for the association became suspicious and found that the cheque, and others totalling $1,575, had been deposited into an account owned by Charbonneau.
Yates said family members of Charbonneau were shocked to learn of the fraud and said it was completely out of character. He described Charbonneau’s situation as “desperate” as he was without income for three months.
“This was all in conjunction with having gotten himself into financial difficulty through an investment he and his colleague, mentor as he describes him, had gotten themselves into and it didn’t turn out,” said Yates. “In order to make rent payments and put food on the table he made the forever regretted decision to cash these cheques.”
Charbonneau, who has no prior convictions, had already paid restitution of the full amount to the Penticton Minor Hockey Association before the sentencing, provided a letter of apology to the hockey association and had letters ready to mail out apologizing to each of the referees.
“I accept what I have done and now want to move on to the next step,” said a tearful Charbonneau to Judge Gail Sinclair.