Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Two years of house arrest for senior who stole $38K

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A Winnipeg senior who bilked her workplace out of thousands to visit a dying friend in Alberta has been sentenced to house arrest.

Linda Ilies, 65, was trusted with blank cheques her supervisor at the Treaty and Aboriginal Rights Research Centre (TARR) signed in advance for the agency's use.

She instead took some of the cheques to pay herself an extra $38,000 between April 2008 and August 2009.

"It's a little bit like taking from your own people," Judge Brent Stewart told Ilies on Thursday.

"It's not just taking the money. It's the scars that happen afterwards that you have to repay," he said.

An audit uncovered poor bookkeeping at the organization, leading the Crown to concede it could prove beyond a reasonable doubt Ilies stole $38,000, Crown attorney Danielle Simard said.

Ilies' longstanding ties to TARR meant they weren't happy to see her go, even after the theft was uncovered.

"It was almost like they reluctantly let her go -- she'd been there since 1982," Simard said.

A series of unfortunate circumstances struck Ilies's life starting in 2005 with the breakup of her second marriage, defence lawyer Ursula Goeres said. Her mother died a year later, setting off a prolonged grieving process, she added.

A friend in Edmonton was diagnosed with terminal cancer, so Ilies spent "a significant amount" of what she stole taking trips to go see her before she died in February 2009, said Goeres.

Stewart endorsed a joint-recommendation from the lawyers that Ilies serve a two-year conditional sentence. The judge added 100 hours of community service work to her sentence.

Ilies had no previous criminal record and has repaid $13,000. Ilies must repay the remaining $25,000 by the end of the 23rd month of her sentence.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2014 B5

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