A 54-year-old St. Andrews, Man., woman whose ongoing theft left her local community club nearly bankrupt has been sentenced to 15 months in jail.
"It was never my intention to hurt anyone, but I know my actions hurt so many people," Sharon Wasny told court Tuesday.
"I acknowledge that no amount of time will go by that I won't be reminded of what I have done."
Wasny was the volunteer bookkeeper at the St. Andrews Community Club between 2005 and 2012, when she used her position to steal nearly $300,000 for her own use.
She pleaded guilty to the theft in March 2017. Prosecutors had asked for a two-year jail sentence.
The impact on the club was "devastating," said Judge Tim Preston.
"For over seven years, she was basically supporting her business and personal life with the community club's money," Preston said.
Club administrators started looking into the club's finances in 2012 after Manitoba Hydro called to say it was about to cut off service following months of unpaid bills. It was another three years before the RCMP launched its own investigation and arrested Wasny.
With the source of its financial shortfall still a mystery, the board was forced to increase sport fees from $25 per family each year to $125 a year for each child, and for each sport they played. It also postponed essential building and equipment repairs.
Court heard that Wasny wrote cheques from the community club's credit union account to pay $208,000 in personal credit card bills, used a community club credit card to steal another $77,000 and wrote two cheques for $7,000, which she deposited into her personal account.
Wasny — who operated her own accounting business — used the money to pay personal business expenses and to finance a luxury lifestyle that included thousands of dollars in hairstyling and jewelry purchases, and multiple trips to Vancouver to watch Canucks games.
'A message must be sent': judge
When board members in 2012 requested her help in getting to the bottom of the club's financial problems, Wasny was "hostile" and refused to hand over financial records, court heard.
Wasny had asked that Preston allow her to serve a conditional sentence in the community so she could care for her terminally ill husband.
Preston rejected the request, saying she had to be personally deterred from ever committing a similar crime again. Wasny "may well be in jail for the last stages of her husband's life," Preston said.
"I can't have you stay in the community," he told Wasny. "A message must be sent to you directly."
Community club president Rob Ataman said he was satisfied with the sentence.
"I'll respect the judge for his decision," Ataman said. "Really, two months more or two months less, what difference does it make? … I'll finally sleep tonight for the first time in a long, long time."
Ataman said the community club is still climbing out of the financial hole Wasny left it in.
"It is nowhere near recovered yet," Ataman said. "It would be nice to get some of those funds back, so we can leave the community club and future members with something they can be proud of."