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Woman pleads guilty to stealing $180,000 from job

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A Yellowknife woman who stole more than $180,000 by forging her boss or co-worker's signatures on 52 cheques pleaded guilty in territorial court Feb. 1.

Dionne Marie Bowden, 35, is scheduled to be back in court Feb. 28 at 1:30 p.m. for sentencing on the charges of theft over $5,000, forging cheques and knowingly using those cheques as though they were genuine.

She stole a total of $181,541.24 from her former employer, Ollerhead and Associates Ltd., while she worked as the Yellowknife company's financial bookkeeper.

The first offence occurred between Aug. 5, 2008 and Aug. 29, 2008, when Bowden signed her boss's name on a cheque payable to CIBC Visa in the amount of $6,500. Then, between Sept. 3, 2008 and Jan. 18, 2010 she signed her employer's name on 46 cheques payable to herself totalling $157,687. She signed another employee's name on two cheques totalling $4,931.60, to herself, between Oct. 22, 2009 and Dec. 17, 2009. Between Dec. 30, 2008 and March 9, 2009, Bowden signed her boss's name on the bottom of three more cheques in the amount of $12,422.14 payable to a Toronto-based law firm.

Varick Ollerhead, president and CEO of Ollerhead and Associates, told Yellowknifer his company doesn't have a working relationship with the Toronto law firm Kronis, Rotsztain, Margles, and Cappel, and he didn't know why Bowden forged cheques to them.

Onofrio Ferlisi, one of the law partners with the firm, declined to offer an explanation as to why his firm cashed three cheques from Ollerhead and Associates.

"We have confidentiality and privacy obligations to our clients and our official position is no comment."

When asked whether Bowden was a client with the firm, Ferlisi also declined to comment.

On July 2, 2010, Ollerhead and Associates Ltd. successfully sued Bowden for $181,541.24 plus interest and $2,110 in costs. The Supreme Court judgment indicates Bowden failed to deliver a "defence or appearance."

On Nov. 9, 2010, Justice Don Cooper ordered the seizure of "any and all funds" held in Bowden's name. The company fired Bowden on Jan. 23, 2010, after an accountant noticed irregularities in the company's financial statements, according to an affidavit dated May 13, 2010 from an employee at the company.

Ollerhead declined to comment on Monday as to whether his company has been able to recover any of the stolen money through the lawsuit.

The maximum penalty for theft over $5,000 and each charge of forgery and knowingly using the forged cheques is ten years in prison.

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