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CRA employee jailed for inappropriate accessing of info

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An ex-Canada Revenue Agency employee who abused her position of trust by funnelling personal information on justice-system insiders to a Winnipeg gang associate in hopes of improving her love life has been sentenced to six months in jail.

"What I did to my victims is unforgivable," a tearful Kelly Dawn Leah, 35, told provincial court Judge Ray Wyant today. "I stole something of such value that it can't be replaced," she said. "From the bottom of my heart, I'm truly sorry for the anguish I put them through."

Leah worked as a clerk for the CRA from 2000 until her dismissal in June 2009. During that time, she admits giving in to pressure from her boyfriend — a Zig Zag Crew associate with a criminal history — and supplying him from time to time with confidential information about people by pulling it from the CRA's internal computers.

A 15-year Winnipeg police constable and a veteran Manitoba criminal defence lawyer were among the targets of her lover's curiosity, Crown attorney Peter Edgett said. Other requests included for people "who owed him or the Zig Zag Crew," said Edgett.

The Zig Zag Crew is aligned with the Hells Angels gang and was the subject of a massive police takedown in late 2009.

The Free Press is not identifying the victims. In the case of the lawyer, Leah passed on information including his home address, his social insurance number, the names of his wife and children. Similar particulars where relayed regarding the cop, court heard.

In a victim impact statement read by Edgett to the court, the lawyer said he was "deeply shocked" to get a call from a police detective who relayed what happened and asked if he feared for the safety of himself or his family.

"For the first time in 17 years in this crazy business, I actually was," the lawyer wrote. He was forced to scramble to update his home alarm system and take other security precautions and his wife was terrified, he wrote.

The victim urged Wyant to send Leah to jail, saying the public would be "appalled" if they learned she was to get a conditional sentence allowing her to remain free in the community.

"She breached a sacred trust that every taxpayer has with the federal government," said the lawyer.

The six-month term of real jail Leah — a first-time offender — received was endorsed by the Crown and defence as a joint-recommendation to Wyant.

Leah started dating the gangster after he was freed from a stint in jail in 2002, court heard. She resisted his efforts to pry information out of her at first but he persisted and she gave in in hopes it would improve the relationship, said defence lawyer Gregory Hawrysh.

The case came to light after the couple split and got into a "custody dispute" over their two dogs sometime in 2008-2009, Wyant was told. Leah then accessed the CRA database to get information on her ex and his new beau. He went to police to make a complaint.

Leah pleaded guilty in 2011, took full advantage of a restorative justice program, stayed out of trouble and has become a valued employee at an East Kildonan manufacturing business.

In hearing Leah's tearful apology, Wyant said he accepted her expression of remorse was sincere. "You called the victims 'my victims,' not 'the victims,'" the former chief judge said. "You personalized the hurt that you imposed."

Wyant said the concerning case presented a "real fear" that the information Leah relayed could have gotten someone hurt or killed. People who work in the justice system live under that threat in the backs of their minds by virtue of their work, he said.

"Every one of us in some fashion experienced the fear that comes along with the type of work that we do," said Wyant, calling Leah's actions a "significant, egregious breach" which "strikes at the very heart of the administration of justice."

"You're going to jail because that's the message that needs to be sent to others," he said.

Family and friends packed the small courtroom for the hearing. Some cried audibly as she was led away by sheriffs to begin serving her sentence.

Twitter: @heyjturner





Updated on Friday, August 23, 2013 at 10:54 AM CDT: Fixes typo in headline.

1:23 PM: Writethru.

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