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This article was published 31/5/2011 (3840 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A 60-year-old Winnipeg woman is heading to jail after getting caught stealing $450,000 from her employer to feed a prolific gambling addiction.
Heather Rekken was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months behind bars for a nearly decade-long fraud of a family-run business in Transcona.
"There has to be a consequence, and the consequence has to be significant," said provincial court Judge Ray Wyant, who rejected the woman's bid for a conditional sentence which would allow her to remain free in the community.
Rekken had spent 21 years balancing the books at Robin Electric before her deceit was discovered by her bosses. It was an especially bitter pill to swallow for the victims, who looked at Rekken as an extended member of their family and invited her to numerous weddings and other celebrations over the years.
"These are hardly victimless crimes. They weren't just concerned about the profits they lost, but the personal violation they suffered," said Wyant.
Rekken kept her crimes hidden from her husband, two adult children and other family members -- only telling them what she'd been caught doing for the first time earlier this year. She claims to have used the majority of the stolen money to support her gambling addiction, which stemmed from depression and low self-esteem, according to a medical report filed in court.
None of the missing funds have been repaid.
"I've hurt so many people," she said Tuesday before being led away in handcuffs to serve her sentence. Rekken has no prior criminal involvement.
Crown attorney Mandy Ambrose said Rekken abused the trust of her employer to forge dozens of cheque and transfer money to herself through company credit cards over the years.
The crime nearly crippled the company, which was forced to lay off two electricians to stay afloat.
Defence lawyer Iain MacNair told court Rekken will have to find a way to attempt to repay the $450,000 restitution order imposed by the courts.
"She's basically saying she's willing to scrub floors," he said.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.