Matthew Wock, who previously pleaded guilty to defrauding Redhead Equipment Ltd. of $75,000, escaped a prison sentence during Monday's provincial court proceedings.
The 28-year-old Estevan resident instead received an 18-month conditional sentence that includes a nine-month period of house arrest. The house arrest exceptions include medical emergencies and for purposes of employment.
Crown prosecutor Bill Burge divulged the details of Wock's indiscretions before Judge Jeffrey Kalmakoff who was sitting in Estevan for the day.
Wock is a former employee of Redhead, and after leaving the company in April 2009, found that he still had a fuel card belonging to the company. Wock initially used the card to buy fuel at 7/11 stores in Estevan and Weyburn.
In March 2010 he began buying prepaid credit cards in small denominations after he learned from an acquaintance that there was an error in reporting in 7/11.
Originally buying prepaid cards of $25 and $50, he started to purchase larger amounts, eventually buying $200 cards, along with his fuel purchases.
Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 8, 2010, Wock discovered that his prepaid credit card had been cancelled by Redhead. He then went to Redhead and took another credit card out of a vehicle that was parked on their lot.
"He started to make purchases with that second credit card," said Burge.
From March 21 to March 25, 2011, the second card was cancelled, so he went to Redhead again, took another card from a vehicle, and continued to make purchases.
"Throughout the time frame, Your Honour, the amount $77,158," Burge added, noting Wock has no previous criminal history. All of that was ordered to be returned in restitution.
Burge said there was a different prosecutor handling the case the last time it was brought before the court when Wock entered his guilty plea, and that it was said before the court that if there was a positive pre-sentence report, the prosecution would consider proposing a non-custodial sentence.
"There are some aggravating factors here," said Burge, "especially going back and (taking a number of cards) and continuing to (take credit cards). If the court feels it is appropriate for a conditional sentence. I would ask the court to consider a lengthy conditional sentence, followed by a lengthy probation order, requiring (Wock) to make monthly payments. It's hard to see that even if the maximum period of time available to the court were imposed, that would require something like $12,000 to $13,000 a year in restitution.
"Had I been asking for a custodial sentence, it likely would have been in the six to nine month range."
Burge asked the court that if a conditional sentence were to be imposed, there should be some kind of penal aspect to it, and noted the pre-sentence report found there to be a gambling addiction.
Kalmakoff questioned whether or not Wock should be considered in a position of trust, which would be an aggravating factor, as he was no longer working for Redhead. Burge said he perhaps wouldn't be in a position of trust after ceasing to use the first card, which he received while working for Redhead.
Lori Dunford represented Wock at the proceedings, and noted he is a father and husband. His wife and parents attended court with on Monday.
Dunford said $200 per month in restitution was suggested to the court because he is the sole provider for his two children. During summer months when there is a possibility for him to work more, he may be able to pay more, and Dunford said that is something he hopes to do.
She told the judge Wock has been trying to get a line of credit or an additional mortgage on his house.
"At this point ... the credit rate is too high, and because of the outstanding charges, they wouldn't approve him," Dunford told the court.
"The pre-sentence report is extremely positive."
She noted similar cases where the guilty party received an 18-month conditional sentence.
"He is very motivated to make restitution," she said.
Wock had a prepared statement that he read to the judge.
"I would like to sincerely apologize for any financial burden, as well as betraying any trust they had in me. I am aware I made it difficult for them to be able to trust future and present employees because of my acts."
He also apologized to his family, friends and everyone he knows who are disappointed in him. He said people are looking at him "not as a bad person, but a person who has done a bad thing."
After the conditional sentence expires, Wock will be on probation for three years.