Crown asks for jail in soccer fraud case
Admitted fraudster Debbie Judd smiled freely and often as she talked to two of her older children in Richmond provincial court on Tuesday afternoon.
The faces were more serious and sombre on the opposite side of the court gallery, where representatives from local sports groups sat awaiting her sentencing for pilfering more than $200,000 from the Richmond Youth Soccer Association’s coffers between 1998 and 2003.
While Crown counsel Mark Rankin earlier this year requested a prison sentence of between two and three years, Judd’s lawyer, Leslie Mackoff, argued Tuesday that his client should get a conditional sentence.
During a sentencing hearing before Richmond provincial court Judge Patrick Chen, Mackoff asked for a conditional sentence, which would allow her to keep her current job, while paying back most of what she took from the soccer association.
Mackoff argued that Judd and her family have already paid a hefty price for her actions.
Judd served as the chair and treasurer of the association for nearly a decade, but it wasn’t until she left that another treasurer unearthed a trail of fraud that totalled $204,407.
But during sentencing submissions on Tuesday, Mackoff detailed the devastating impact of Judd’s actions on her soccer family.
“The sins of the parents were visited upon the children,” Mackoff said.
Her children became the target of aspersions on the soccer pitch, her husband’s professional soccer coaching career was derailed to the point that he had to declare bankruptcy, and the family had to uproot from Richmond, and relocate to Alberta, where Judd, her husband, and their two younger children currently reside.
Judd’s actions led to a break-up of the marriage, though Mackoff said that the couple have since reconciled and that Judd’s husband has been able to deal with his anger.
The police investigation began in 2004, after association representatives first learned of the money’s disappearance.
Not long after, Judd’s husband was told that his coaching services were no longer needed at the elite level where he’d been working.
When Judd’s husband was offered an opportunity to coach professional soccer in Croatia, that offer was later retracted when somehow that team learned of Judd’s criminal actions.
Mackoff said Judd’s fraud was hardly a sophisticated operation.
It began with Judd paying out-of-pocket for association purchases, and then paying herself back afterward without keeping an accounting of the numbers.
At one point, she discovered she was issuing cheques to herself that were more than what she was owed, but that didn’t put an end to the theft.
She continued to make out cheques to herself and her husband.
Judd currently works in Alberta, where she makes $58,000 per year as an executive assistant for physicians doing medical research at the University of Calgary.
Mackoff said Judd doesn’t handle money and there’s no financial aspect to her job.
If Judd is jailed, Mackoff said she’ll lose her job, and will no longer be able to parent her seven-year-old, affecting her husband’s working ability as well.
He’s proposing that she serve a conditional sentence of two years, less a day, and that for the first six to 12 months, serve a curfew that would keep her at home between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
That would enable her to keep her job, during which she would repay $1,000 per month, until she retires, for a total of $156,000.
Judge Chen has reserved his judgement until January.