The former financial controller for The Security Centre Ltd. was sentenced to four years, two months and 12 days in prison on Friday for stealing more than $420,000 from her employer.
Patti Jane Ebanks pleaded guilty to one charge of theft and was given a 30 percent reduction from the total sentence of six years’ imprisonment.
Justice Charles Quin said there was significant planning in the crime and that Ebanks harmed innocent third parties by concealing her acts for three years.
The judge noted that the sentence should not be regarded as a precedent for future cases, and he said the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating ones.
The court found that Ebanks, who had worked at The Security Centre since 2007, was able to steal from her company by filling out invoices, drafting checks and arranging for those checks to be cashed. Her bank statements showed that she had spent large amounts of money on online shopping.
Ebanks abused her position as financial controller for more than three years, from April of 2010 to June of 2013, and first appeared in Summary Court in March 2014, when she was 48. She faced 39 charges at that point, and after the case was transferred to Grand Court, she pleaded not guilty to 24 counts in August 2015. At that point, the charges against Ebanks included forgery, making documents without authority and transfer of criminal property in addition to various counts of theft.
The Crown withdrew that multi-count indictment in November 2016 and entered a new indictment with a single charge of theft. Ebanks pleaded guilty to that single charge, and the court paused for a social inquiry report and psychiatric report to be prepared before sentencing.
Justice Quin took both of those reports into consideration Friday, and noted that the social inquiry report said the defendant was an “intelligent, charismatic person who clearly has numerous strengths.” He also noted that she has no prior convictions, and cited the probation report to say that the defendant seemed to suffer from addictions to alcohol and to spending and shopping.
Moments later, Justice Quin said that in all cases in which substantial amounts of money are stolen, there’s one common denominator: “Pure greed.”
Ebanks has not made any restitution, and the court said that the victim is free to seek repayment in civil court.
Justice Quin found that Ebanks could have saved the court time and expense by pleading guilty earlier in the process, and he noted that executives at The Security Centre are of the opinion that the theft and late admission of guilt were damaging to the company.
Ebanks left a cloud of suspicion over other hard-working employees and made a serious breach of her position as financial controller, said Justice Quin, noting that the later a guilty plea is entered, the lower the reduction that can be expected in sentencing.
Justice Quin noted that the guilty plea had been entered with the promise of a significant reduction and factored that into his final sentence.