hi-court-regina-qb

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has boosted a Moose Jaw woman's fraud sentence from house arrest to nine months in jail.

The former CUPE official in Moose Jaw who got house arrest for defrauding her union local will go to jail after all, Saskatchewan's highest court has decided.

The Court of Appeal recently ruled that the two-year conditional sentence Diana Bethke received in provincial court in June was unfit and turned it into a nine-month jail sentence.

Bethke, 56, had pleaded guilty to defrauding CUPE Local 9 of $178,320 over five years while she was secretary-treasurer.

Court heard Bethke, who is currently on long-term disability leave from her job at the City of Moose Jaw,  wrote 60 cheques to herself, draining the CUPE bank account until national union officials were asking why union dues weren't being sent it.

"She had never been addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling or the like, but was in the habit of spending beyond her means," the appeal court said in its 18-page decision.

The original provincial court sentence was supposed to begin with eight months of electronic monitoring and included a number of conditions, including community service. 

The provincial attorney-general said it was "demonstrably unfit" and should be boosted to a 15-month jail term. The appeal was argued on Nov. 6.

In its decision, made public this week on the Canlii legal website, the appeal court said it had looked at other fraud cases where the convicted fraudster received jail time, so jail was appropriate in Bethke's case, too.

Local 9 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees represents employees with the City of Moose Jaw, clerical workers with the city police service, library workers and art gallery employees.

Because of Bethke's fraud, the local ended up owing more than $100,000 to its national office.

To pay that bill, it had to boost union dues by 50 per cent and the dental and medical benefits of members were downgraded, the appeal court noted.