Colette Margaret Richard, 29, who had earlier pleaded guilty to a single count of theft over $5,000, was to be sentenced Wednesday morning in Summerside provincial court.
But after hearing the facts, sentencing submissions from Crown attorney David O’Brien, who was asking for jail, and from Richard’s lawyer Trish Cheverie, who argued house arrest was appropriate in the case, Judge Jeff Lantz said he needed to review all information before delivering his sentence.
Richard was director of Le Jardin des Etoiles, located within Centre Belle Alliance, when she stole more money over the span of less than four years from the non-profit daycare.
The court heard that the single mother of two was employed with the daycare from 2003 until the time of her arrest in September 2012.
During the time the money was stolen — October 2008 to June 2012 — Richard was responsible for collecting payment from parents, issuing receipts, making bank deposits, and was one of two individuals with signing authority at the bank.
When a new director took over and was asked by parents about receipts, Richard was questioned, raising suspicion when she didn’t provide any information.
An attempt was made by the director and the bookkeeper to match the books to the receipts given to parents. Eventually, the bookkeeper and an outside accountant reviewed the daycare’s books, determining $77,874 collected between October 2008, and June 2012 had not been deposited in the bank.
A modification was made after a parent indicated they had yet to pay $5,600.
Richard was arrested on Sept. 7, 2012. She admitted to police that she stole from the daycare, saying she knew it “wasn’t right” and that she would pay it back but that there was none of the money left.
She told police the money went to bills, trips to hospital in Halifax for her youngest daughter, who has a medical condition, and other necessities.
Richard said she began taking money when she began making the daycare’s deposits. When the total was disclosed she said, “I didn’t know it was that much.”
The daycare did have insurance covering only up to $10,000, which has yet to be paid out. To date, none of money has been paid back.
Richard was fired from her job. She had no previous record.
Cheverie said her client was co-operative in the investigation and helped the daycare’s board of directors determine exactly how the money was taken and how much was stolen, eliminating the need for a forensic audit.
O’Brien argued that, based on recent decisions, time behind bars — a sentence ranging from nine to 12 months — is warranted.
“It’s not an insignificant amount,” O’Brien said of the theft. “There was a high degree of premeditation. She abused a position of trust and authority.”
Cheverie requested Richard receive 12 to 18 months house arrest, adding that her client plans to pay the money back and is currently working.
Sentencing in the case will take place April 16 at 1:30 p.m.