Former Quebec lieutenant-governor Lise Thibault was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in jail and was ordered to repay the government $300,000 after pleading guilty to fraud and breach of trust last year.
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The judge in Thibault's fraud case said there was no question about Thibault's intentions when she stole $429,676 from the provincial and federal governments over seven years by claiming reimbursements for things she should not have claimed as expenses.
Thibault must repay $200,000 to the federal government and $100,000 to Quebec.
In a long preamble to the final sentencing, Quebec Court Judge Carol St-Cyr took the time to outline her crimes, pointing out that Thibault was more concerned with her public image than in accounting for her wrongdoing.
St-Cyr said Thibault took advantage of holes in the system and abused her position of authority to pay for trips, golf lessons and birthday parties. He also said that Thibault forgot that her role as lieutenant-governor was to be a good example for Quebecers.
Thibault did not react as the judge handed down her 18-month jail sentence. She was handcuffed while sitting in her wheelchair and when constables wheeled her out of the courtroom, she was smiling.
Crown wanted 4-year sentence
The 76-year-old pleaded guilty last year to submitting expenses for travel, gifts, meals and events for herself and her family during her 10-year appointment.
The Crown has argued she should go to prison for four years for committing fraud while in a position of public trust and should pay back $430,000.
Thibault's lawyer Marc Labelle has said his client has been "publicly crucified" and should serve a one-year sentence in the community.
Thibault recently told Radio-Canada she doesn't remember pleading guilty in 2014. She said she has been unfairly depicted in the media with "rumours and lies that help sell the news."
Hours after Thibault was sentenced, her lawyer, Marc Labelle, filed a request to appeal the sentence.
"The law says that when it is not a crime of violence, when the person has no record, when there are particular conditions as far as her health is concerned ... the law provides that jail is supposed to be the last-case scenario for an accused," he said. "Even though it may sometimes undermine the public confidence ... time to be served in the community is still time," he said.
Labelle told reporters outside the Quebec City courtroom that he will request Thibault be released as early as Thursday morning pending approval of the appeal.