Kelly J. Smith, a 40-year-old Brantford, Ontario woman, who defrauded her employers in Brantford and Simcoe of nearly $38,000, was sentenced Friday to 20 months in jail.
Kelly J. Smith earlier pleaded guilty in Ontario Court to three counts of fraud over $5,000. She had falsified claims while working at area dental offices between 2009 and 2011.
“Your crimes cry out for a jail sentence,” said Justice Robert Gee, noting the frauds involved breaches of trust and significant monetary amounts and given Smith’s prior, similar criminal history.
“The community has to know that if you steal from your employer you’ll go to jail,” Gee said.
The Crown had suggested a term of two years less a day while the defence suggested a sentence of three to 12 months, if custody was even necessary.
In January 2012, the dental office received word that Manulife Financial was investigating some insurance claims that had originated from the office concerning services rendered for Smith and her family members. Funds to cover dental services had been deposited to Smith’s bank account, but investigation revealed that neither Smith or members of her family had received the treatments, court heard.
In all, 27 fraudulent insurance claims, totalling $10,125.64, had been made by Smith and the funds deposited to her bank account.
Her employment was terminated in March 2010 and, several months later, she got a job as an office administrator at Life Time Dental in Brantford. She worked there from May 2010 to March 2011, during which time she removed $21,215 in cash receipts from the office, court heard.
Smith deleted patient treatments from the office computer to make it seem as though services had not been performed and then she pocketed cash payments.
She also overbilled Manulife Financial by $6,655.25 by submitting claims for dental work for herself and her family members that were never performed.
“I’m extremely sorry for what I’ve done,” Kelly J. Smith told the court on Friday.
She said she has started to seek help and feels she is on the right path.
“It was a real eye-opener this time around,” Smith said.
This time around was the latest in more than a decade of similar offenses, court heard.
In 1998, Smith was convicted of fraud in St. Thomas for lying about a live-in partner so she could fraudulently collect welfare benefits.
In 2004 and 2007, Kelly J. Smith amassed other convictions. She was convicted in St. Thomas of uttering a forged document after she quit a job as a receptionist and then doctored her final paycheque from $344 to $8,344.
She was convicted for personation after falsifying a letter from the Children’s Aid Society which she gave to the author of a pre-sentence report being readied for her sentencing for uttering a forged document.
She also once worked in a call centre for Great West Life and submitted false claims, for which she earned another conviction.
“She steals from people who give her opportunities in life,” said assistant Crown attorney Lawrence Brock. “She’s a thief.”
Over the past 14 years, Kelly J. Smith has received six probation orders, two conditional sentence orders and two separate weekend jail sentences.
Smith told the court the money she stole from the dental offices was used to feed her addiction to Oxycontin.
She said she has been struggling with “impulse control problems” since she was young.
“I don’t know why I do what I do, why I steal,” Smith said.
Smith is quick to seek counselling when charged with a crime, but then does not follow through, Brock said.
When asked why she has not sought help on her own over the course of her life, Kelly J. Smith said,”I have sought out help but it wasn’t the right kind.”
Justice Gee told Kelly J. Smith that she has to stop making excuses for not accepting the help she says she needs.
“You are the only one who can change the path you’re on,” he said.
Smith will be on probation for three years following her release from custody. Within three months of her release, Smith is to begin making monthly restitution payments of $400. At the end of the probation term, the balance of about $24,800 will remain owing in the form of a freestanding restitution order.
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