Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kamloops Real Estate Agent Receives Sentence

A realtor who bilked fellow agents out of hard earned money has been sentence to a conditional sentence, to be served in the US.

Realtor to serve sentence in U.S.
by Robert Koopmans of the Kamloops Daily News


A former city Realtor who took $76,000 from her firm’s trust account will be allowed to serve her conditional sentence in the U.S., a judge ruled Tuesday.

Cheryl Moseley, known better to Kamloops as Cheryl King, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one charge of illegally accessing trust funds.

The Crown told the judge the 62-year-old woman took the money from her real estate firm’s trust account as financial affairs collapsed around her in late 2001.

The money she took before she fled Kamloops was partially used to repay a loan from her mother, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Richard Blair heard.

Blair went along with a joint submission for sentence proposed by the Crown and defence lawyers and imposed a two-year less a day conditional sentence, even though the woman now lives in Iowa.

Crown counsel Lorne Fisher said this type of case does not usually see the imposition of conditional sentences. Typically, people who violate the trust of employers or clients in such fashion face jail.

In this case, however, Moseley’s circumstances make a conditional sentence the best option, he told the judge.

Moseley suffers several serious health conditions, including heart disease serious enough that she is expected to soon need arterial bypass surgery.

Fisher said the woman is covered by health insurance in the U.S., but her coverage would be terminated if she leaves Canada for more than 60 days.

Jailing Moseley would see her health-care costs transferred to the Canadian penal system, Fisher said, adding she would be “one expensive prisoner.”

Justice Blair said he could not ignore such an obvious issue, noting the courts must consider all aspects of the public interest in deciding sentences.

“To imprison (her) in Canada would . . . leave the cost of her medical costs with the Canadian taxpayer,” said Blair.

Regardless, Blair had concerns about the idea of imposing a conditional sentence to be served in the U.S., especially with regard to the issue of monitoring.

In Canada, a person who violates terms of a conditional sentence can be brought back to court and made to serve all or some of the sentence in jail.

How could that work if an offender lives in the U.S., asked Blair?

The prosecutor said the Crown will ask American authorities to oversee Moseley’s sentence and report back to Canadian officials. If Moseley fails to abide by her terms, she can be brought back to Canada.

“We do have extradition treaties with the United States,” he said. “Has it been done before? I can’t tell you that it has, no.”

In the end, Justice Blair said while offences involving breach of trust typically demand jail, this case is different, he said.

“I recognize the problem is unique and requires flexibility,” said the judge.

Terms of the conditional sentence will require Moseley to live in Charles City, Iowa, and not change her address without permission. She was prohibited from consuming alcohol for 12 months, and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service work.

However, Justice Blair did not impose a period of house arrest or a curfew, terms often considered usual in conditional sentences. The judge gave no reason for the lack of such restrictions.

Lastly, Moseley was ordered to repay the $76,000 she took from her former firm’s trust account. The money is owed to Re/Max Canada, which covered the losses when they were discovered in 2001.

Before sentence was imposed, the court was told Moseley’s criminal behaviour was an act of desperation as her business and personal life fell apart.

Moseley came to Canada in 1993, after she married Kamloops rancher Bob King on a Cattle Drive.

Her marriage collapsed, however, and by 2001, Moseley was trying to keep afloat both her ranch and her real estate business.

An attempt to secure bank financing failed and shortly after, Moseley raided the trust account. She fled Kamloops and has lived in the U.S. since.

After her disappearance, it was suggested Moseley’s debts tallied in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Kamloops Realtor Mike Applegath was one of those burned the most by Moseley, the court was told. She fled owing him more than $56,000, as well as the messy aftermath of the failed realty firm.

“The whole situation with regard to Kamloops Re/Max Realty Assist . . . was a financial nightmare,” the prosecutor told the court. “Her conduct caused a great deal of consternation for many people who trusted her.”

Fisher said later the Crown could not consider a jail term of less than 60 days in jail for such a serious offence, for fear it would set a precedent in similar cases. A conditional sentence is considered by the Canadian justice system to be the same as jail.

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