Two years prison for former youth soccer executive

The former chair and treasurer of the Richmond Youth Soccer Association has been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing more than $200,000 from the association between 1998 and 2003.

Richmond provincial court Judge Patrick Chen sentenced Debbie Judd to jail, and said the “scale and character of the breach of trust” was more serious than in cases where employees defraud their employers.

After being sentenced, a sullen and shocked-looking Judd turned to look at her teenage son—who sat stone faced at the front of the gallery—for a couple of seconds before being escorted by a courtroom sheriff into custody.

The Crown had requested a sentence of two to three years in prison, while the defence asked for a conditional sentence order to be served in the community. Judd’s lawyer, Leslie Mackoff, noted case law in which similar thefts were handled with non-prison terms.

But Chen made it clear early on in reading his decision Monday morning that Judd was getting a jail sentence. The victims of the theft were the volunteer organizers of the soccer association who were “more vulnerable,” Chen said.

And what made this case more aggravating was the level of trust Judd had earned in the organization, as both an elected chair and treasurer.

In arguing for a conditional sentence, Judd and her lawyer had proposed that she pay a quarter of her salary until retirement, to the association as compensation, which would amount to $156,000. It was noted that Judd had no previous criminal record, that many people wrote letters of support for her, and that she had a seven-year-old son who would also be impacted by a jail sentence.

And although she initially “obfuscated” when approached, she entered a guilty plea early on in the proceedings, and she did express remorse, Judge Chen noted.

But Judd’s lawyer said her actions have tarnished the family’s reputation in the sports community, and her children were the victim of aspersions on the soccer pitch.

Judd’s husband’s professional soccer coaching career was derailed as well to the point he had to declare bankruptcy.

“The sins of the parents were visited upon the children,” Mackoff said during an earlier sentencing hearing.

But Chen said the sentencing principles of denunciation and deterrence were more serious than the other cases cited by Judd’s lawyer.

In her role at the soccer association, Judd was responsible for collection and payments and wrote annual financial statements for the association. Judd was able to secure co-signatures on blank cheques that she filled out with false information.

Chen noted that “planning and manipulation” were involved in the deception, and that Judd stopped “only when she was found out.” He said “the entire sports community of Richmond was victimized,” and  that her actions were “a serious breach of trust.”

Chen ordered her to pay $204,070 in restitution.

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