A Kilbride woman who swindling $70,000 from her employer has been given a 16-month conditional sentence, followed by two years’ probation, and was ordered to pay back the money.
The sentence was handed down at provincial court in St. John’s Thursday morning by Judge Colin Flynn, who went along with lawyers’ joint recommendation.
Chaulk, 46, had pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud over $5,000 in connection with a misappropriation of money from Backyard Contractors over a period of 13 years. As a result, a forgery charge against her was withdrawn, as was a fraud charge laid against her husband, Doug Chaulk, 48.
Leah Chaulk admitted she used a company credit card and gas cards to pay for personal items – including an iPhone, a snowblower, a generator, dental care and purchases at Mile One, Kent, Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. and St. John’s Minor Hockey, among others — and allowed Doug to use the cards as well. She also over-collected her vacation pay from the business by failing to deduct pay for vacation time she had taken.
Police were first contacted by Michael Whalen, owner of Backyard Contractors, who visited police two years ago to tell them he suspected Chaulk, who was then still his employee, had been misappropriating funds from the business. He told officers he planned to confront her that day.
Chaulk’s duties with the company included receptionist work as well as managing accounts payable and receivable, payroll, banking, filing and other tasks. She had been employed with the company since 2001.
Two months after his initial visit to police, Whelan returned, telling them he had confronted Chaulk, who had repaid him $12,000. Whelan said he had reviewed financial records for the company and thought Chaulk had been misappropriating money for about 13 years.
A review of Chaulk’s Mastercard, meant for business supplies, revealed the personal purchases, and an examination of business accounts showed Chaulk had received vacation pay to which she wasn’t entitled.
Whalen also gave police documents showing Chaulk had faxed an application to North Atlantic in 2005, requesting an additional “Island Pass” gas card for the company. According to an agreed statement of facts presented in court Thursday, Chaulk and her husband used the card from 2005 to 2016 to put gas in their personal vehicle, collecting Air Miles and store reward points for themselves. Whelan provided police with a video of Doug Chaulk using the card for his personal vehicle on two occasions.
In April of last year, an RNC investigator spoke to the Chaulks’ lawyer to advise him police would be laying charges against the couple. The lawyer arranged for his clients to visit RNC headquarters, where they were charged.