Broken trust

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Woman who swindled almost $90,000 from groups gets house arrest

Kerri Nichole Holwell of Mount Pearl hides her face from reporters prior to being sentenced for fraud in provincial court in St. John’s Monday. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

A Mount Pearl woman who swindled thousands of dollars from three groups, including minor hockey moms, didn’t get much sympathy from the judge.

But in the end, Kerri Nichole Holwell avoided jail time.

In provincial court in St. John’s Monday, the 34-year-old was given an 18-month conditional sentence, meaning she’ll serve her time in the community.

She pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud over $5,000.

Between January 2008 and January of this year, Holwell admitted to stealing more than $86,000.

She defrauded her former employer, Eastcom Inc. in Mount Pearl, of $11,822.98.

While serving as treasurer for two Mount Pearl organizations, she took $34,029.37 from Liberty Housing Co-op and $40,416.67 from the Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Moms.

She said she stole the money to support a cocaine habit.

Her lawyer, Lori Marshall, said Holwell was going through a hard time in her life and it was “a cry for help.”

But that didn’t sit well with the Judge David Power, who called it an excuse.

“These organizations are trying to help other people who can’t, (help themselves)” Power said. “You put yourself in a position where you could steal (the  money).

“Now you come to court and say it was because you were addicted to cocaine…?” he added, shaking his head.

“You can suggest this was a cry for help, but you kept doing it over and over again. That says an awful lot about your character …

“People steal from big corporations, but these organizations were devastated,” the judge said.

“And you couldn’t care less.”

As part of the sentence, Power placed Holwell on two years’ probation with conditions that include she not serve in a position of trust and that she pay back the $86,269.

The judge also told her to stay away from cocaine and people who sell it.

“Yes sir,” Holwell replied, wiping away tears.

The conditional sentence was in keeping with what both Marshall and Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland had recommended.

Strickland stressed that even after Holwell confessed to police, she continued her fraudulent activity.

However, he pointed out that she has no prior criminal record, is getting counselling for her drug addiction and has been deemed a low risk to reoffend.

According to the agreed statement of facts read in court, Holwell was a sales and customer service representative when she stole the money from Eastcom.

On several occasions, she made fraudulent refunds to her bank account via her debit card.

As treasurer for the Liberty Housing Co-op — a 10-unit housing co-op on Munden Drive — she wrote a number of cheques and deposited them into her personal bank account. She also admitted to forwarding invoices which she created herself.

In a victim impact statement read in court, David Boyde, a finance services officer with Liberty Housing Co-op, said Holwell’s actions had a “devastating effect.”

“We found ourselves in a situation where we couldn’t pay our bills,” he told the court …

Holwell was also treasurer of the Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Moms, a volunteer organization that operates under the Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association.

The hockey moms operate the canteen at both the Glacier and Smallwood Drive Arenas. Any profit is turned over to the association, which uses it to pay for activities and payment of hockey fees and equipment for children whose families cannot afford it.

With access to the group’s bank account, Holwell wrote cheques to herself drawn on the minor hockey moms and deposited them into her own personal bank account.

She also stole a number of cash deposits from the canteen.

The value of the cheques was $29,296.45, while she pocketed $11,120.22 in stolen deposits.

Josephine St. Croix of the Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Moms told the court that the impact of Holwell’s frauds was felt throughout the entire association.

“It was a broken trust and it affected the entire organization,” she said.

“It was a huge and significant loss of revenue.”

She said the group was unable to help sponsor under-privileged children. It also resulted in the association having to get an insecure loan to avoid bankruptcy.

“People questioned the goals of our association and questioned our integrity,” she said.

“The loss will be continued to be felt for many years to come.”

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Liberty Housing Co-op, Eastcom, Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Moms.She Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Moms Co-op on Munden Drive Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association.The

Geographic location: Mount Pearl

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Frustrated
    October 28, 2010 - 15:05

    Forget good people do bad things. Whatever happened to 'you do the crime, you do the time'? Her crimes impacted so many people. From her former employer, to the people who trusted her with their money for their homes, to the under-privileged children who the hockey moms couldn't help this year. Did her son play hockey this year? You bet he did. I wonder where that money came from? Drug habit. What drug habit? Her children would have been taken from her if the police or the courts ever believed she had a drug habit. It has all been lies after lies right from the start. Now she gets to stay home and have our tax payer's dollars keeps her well looked after. If anyone should be looked after, it's her children. They are victims here too. She should be locked up for the 18 months and not allowed to do a job that handles money in any way for the rest of her life. She got away with it now, why wouldn't she 're-offend'?

  • Pearl
    October 27, 2010 - 11:47

    The Telegram moderators are brutal. Any comment not politically correct enough gets censored, no matter how nicely it's written, I don't know how they can look in the mirror each day.

  • Frustrated
    October 27, 2010 - 11:47

    Forget good people do bad things. Whatever happened to 'you do the crime, you do the time'? Her crimes impacted so many people. From her former employer, to the people who trusted her with their money for their homes, to the under-privileged children who the hockey moms couldn't help this year. Did her son play hockey this year? You bet he did. I wonder where that money came from? Drug habit. What drug habit? Her children would have been taken from her if the police or the courts ever believed she had a drug habit. It has all been lies after lies right from the start. Now she gets to stay home and have our tax payer's dollars keeps her well looked after. If anyone should be looked after, it's her children. They are victims here too. She should be locked up for the 18 months and not allowed to do a job that handles money in any way for the rest of her life. She got away with it now, why wouldn't she 're-offend'?

  • adam
    October 27, 2010 - 11:09

    The issue here is not that she has/had an addiction,and whos to say the ppl commenting do not know the power of addition(many are quick to assume that too) the issue is she got off to easy. Thats the main and only point here. She did something wrong and the courts were too easy. Yes good ppl do bad things, and those bad things have consequences.

  • greta fr. nl
    October 26, 2010 - 21:23

    Here we go again " A low risk to reoffend" The easiest way to beat the courts is say we have a drug addiction. She got off too easy.

  • gsquires
    October 26, 2010 - 20:38

    I've read some of the comments on here!!! Must be nice to live in a glass house and throw stones. Alcohol and drugs have destroyed the best of people. Unless you've dealt with it in your own family you have no idea how it affects a person. They have no regard for anything or anyone only the next fix. It doesn't excuse what was done but I'm sure the courts will be keeping a close eye on what she is doing. And from here on out no matter where she works if there is money involved or if it goes missing she will be the first one they will suspect. We make choices in life and some are definitely not good choices. Some are more drastic then others. We live in a society now where drugs are becoming a very real threat to our children. We can turn our head and pretend it isn't a real issue but it is. We can say sure use it as an excuse for what you've done but try living with an alcoholic or someone abusing drugs and watch the mind altering it does and you will understand the real threat it poses.

  • JaneDoe
    October 26, 2010 - 19:03

    This women has two children who depend on her and this is the kind of example she is giving an impressionable teenager and a small child. Grow up Keri you should have learned your lesson many years ago.

  • Pearl
    October 26, 2010 - 16:33

    If it had been a man, he'd be in jail. Don't believe there's a double standard? Just look at the conditions at HMP versus the cottages women are housed in.

  • wanda
    October 26, 2010 - 15:21

    You know what ever happened to good people can do bad things...people that pass judgement like these comments obviously know nothing about the power of addiction....

    • angered
      October 28, 2010 - 15:58

      Assuming that no one here commenting knows nothing about addiction is a assumption. The point is her punishment does not fit her crime

  • Luanne
    October 26, 2010 - 14:06

    So let me get this straight....I can "volunteer" for an organization, steel $80,000, pay my mortgage off, stay home with my children for a year and a half, get paid (receive social assistance) the whole time and at the end of the house arrest I'm mortgage free....Again I ask John "what is the deterrent here?" Seems like an incentive not a deterrent.

  • Disgusted.
    October 26, 2010 - 14:02

    If anyone knows this girl, they would know she is likely to reoffend. Absolutely terrible person, and she stands by what she has done. Its all an act, and she doesnt care who she hurts along the way with her train wreck of a life. Its a shame that this person doesnt spend time behind bars. When she reoffends eventually, maybe she will get what she finally deserves.

  • ashely
    October 26, 2010 - 12:44

    I think she just got a slap on the wrist.. and for someone to do this to children and moms she should spend a life time in jail.. she makes me sick.. and using her past as a excuse, there is no good excuse.. id be ashamed to go outside at all.. hopefully she still dont have her kids.. i hope she rots in hell..

  • Joan
    October 26, 2010 - 10:15

    She is disgusting, should have been locked up. Drugs are nothing but an excuse, no pity on this woman!

  • John Smith
    October 26, 2010 - 09:11

    Where is the deterrent here? She stole all this money, now she gets to sit home and watch soaps all day. Is this what we have come to? I think she should be put in stocks at the intermission in the Avalon Mall, with a big sign saying THIEF!!

  • Kevin Power
    October 26, 2010 - 08:04

    There is never any shortage of thieves and there is never any shortage of excuses when they get caught. This convicted thief claims to have a cocaine addiction problem, in fact what she has is a lack of moral code. Hiding her face is probably a good indication of just how sorry she really is, about what she has done. Good luck of ever getting the money back from her.

  • David
    October 26, 2010 - 08:01

    No jail time for more than $80,000 in cash, excellent deal, can't wait to get my hands on the cash register.....with a justice system like this no employer is safe.

    • Interested
      October 26, 2010 - 12:37

      That's more then the many politians who stole from the Public purse got as punishment. It is sad when our leaders, our Political figures, menter people on how to steal and get away with it ...

    • garge
      October 26, 2010 - 13:54

      If she were male there would be jail time!!