A Brandon granny has been sentenced to house arrest for using bad cheques to buy hundreds of dollars worth of cigarettes and other goods.
The woman has a “deplorable” record and has been sentenced to numerous stints in jail since her offending began back in the 1960s. It’s time for her to change her ways, the sentencing judge told her.
“You’re 66 years old, surely you’re tired of spending time in jail and would like to be out in the community to enjoy time with your family, with your new grandchild,” Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta said.
Wendy Catherine Forrest, 66, was sentenced in Brandon on Monday on six charges that included fraud, possession of property obtained by crime and false pretences.
Crown attorney Garry Rainnie said the crimes were committed between September and November of 2013.
On Sept. 10, Forrest went to the Rivers Bigway Foods and wrote two business cheques in the name of a Neepawa store that had closed. She used a cheque written for $700 to buy $465 in goods and got about $235 cash back, the second cheque was written for $500 and was used to buy $315 worth of cigarettes with $185 change.
The rest of the crimes were committed using old cheques from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.
How Forrest got them remains a mystery.
Sioux Valley administration indicated they don’t know how the cheques ended up in Forrest’s hands. They may have been stolen at some point, and hadn’t been in use for years.
The band updates its cheques from time to time, as new security measures are introduced.
Police said the cheques used by Forrest were made out as payable to one of 11 names she’s known to use as aliases.
Sioux Valley Chief Vince Tacan signs all cheques, which are to be co-signed by one of the councillors. He didn’t sign them, and he didn’t recognize any of the signatures on them.
Forrest first used an old Sioux Valley cheque at the Canadian Tire in Brandon on Sept. 15. There, she used a $600 cheque to buy four cartons of cigarettes and received $180 cash back.
On Sept. 22, she was in Alexander, where she handed a $517 cheque to a Stahl’s Food Mart clerk for $327 worth of groceries and got $190 cash.
On Sept 24, she was back in Brandon and went to the Petro-Canada service station on Highland Avenue. The $711 cheque was used to buy six cartons of cigarettes with $4 cash back.
Finally, on Nov. 2 in Rapid City, she used a cheque to buy $402 worth of cigarettes, coffee and chips from the Co-op and got $120 back.
The total value of the goods and money Forrest obtained with the bad cheques was $3,550.
Forrest told authorities that the crimes were organized. She would hand off the cigarettes to another person in an unidentified “organization” for resale. She would receive about $250 for each time she secured goods.
Hewitt-Michta noted that Forrest has a “deplorable” lengthy related record that spans Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba.
Prior to these latest offences, police calculated that, since 1966, Forrest had amassed convictions for 104 charges of false pretences, 64 charges of uttering forged documents, 21 charges of fraud, 59 charges related to the fraudulent or unauthorized use of credit cards and credit card data, nine charges of forgery, three charges of personation and three charges of theft.
Rainnie and defence lawyer Patrick Sullivan joined to recommend a sentence of nine months house arrest for these latest cheque offences.
In recommending the sentence, Rainnie said Forrest was arrested on Dec. 7, but has been out on bail since Feb. 27 with no problems.
Rainnie said probation has indicated that Forrest seems willing to become a law-abiding citizen, perhaps due to the recent arrival of a grandchild. Sullivan added Forrest has taken counselling.
Hewitt-Michta agreed to impose the sentence of nine months of house arrest, to be followed by 18 months of probation. The judge gave Forrest until the end of probation to pay for the $3,550 in goods and cash she took.
Sullivan noted that his client’s income currently consists of her pension and old age security.
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