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She wasn't in the courtroom in person Wednesday afternoon, but Anne Squires' voice was heard loud and clear over speakerphone as she responded four times to the clerk who read out her charges.
"How do you wish to plead?" the clerk asked after announcing the details of charges of theft, fraud, forgery and breach of trust.
"Guilty, Justice," Squires responded.
The former Exit Realty on the Rock owner had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, but officially changed her pleas Wednesday, with her lawyer, Randy Piercey, indicating he and prosecutor Arnold Hussey had been working on a deal.
The only sticking point, Piercey said, is the amount of money involved in the offences.
Presiding over the case at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's, Justice Robert Stack didn't enter convictions to the charges, saying he wanted to wait until Squires was in the courtroom in person. The matter will be back before Stack for an update in June.
If the Crown and defence have come to an agreement at that point, a date will be set for Squires' sentencing. If not, two weeks have been set aside starting Sept. 30 for a trial by judge alone, though it would relate to the financial amounts only.
Squires' eight-week jury trial had been scheduled to start at the beginning of this month, but was postponed after Piercey and Hussey indicated they were close to an agreement. Squires wasn't in the courtroom at that point, either.
Squires' charges state, specifically, that she stole an amount over $5,000 from Exit Realty on the Rock; that she defrauded Access EasyFunds Ltd. — a company that gives monetary advances to real estate agents for sales before the deals close — of an amount exceeding $5,000; that she knowingly caused employees of Exit Realty on the Rock and Access Easy Funds Ltd. to act upon forged purchase agreements as if they were genuine; and that she, in her position with Exit Realty on the Rock, converted trust money for a use that was not authorized by the trust. The offences took place between July 3, 2014 and Feb. 2, 2016.
Exit Realty on the Rock went into receivership in February 2016, after the government pulled its real estate licence. Squires was charged at the end of that year, following a 10-month police investigation.