News from the Penticton courthouse.

News from the Penticton courthouse.

Theft of over $40,000 nets house arrest

Osoyoos man pleads guilty to bilking over $40,000 from the Osoyoos Rural Fire Protection District

Bilking over $40,000 out of the Osoyoos Rural Fire Protection District earned Michael McWhinnie a 12-month conditional sentence.

McWhinnie, 68, was the secretary treasurer for the fire protection group and wrote himself 40 to 50 cheques over the course of 10 months totalling $41,276. He entered an early guilty plea to theft over $5,000 and was sentenced in Penticton provincial court on Monday in front of Judge Gregory Koturbash.

Crown counsel Catherine Crockett said some of the evidence pointed to gambling problems as a factor in why McWhinnie stole the money. Another board member discovered the missing money while taking care of the books when McWhinnie was on vacation. Crockett said McWhinnie has repaid the funds to the Osoyoos Rural Fire Protection District.

McWhinnie, a retired elementary school teacher in Osoyoos, must pay $600 in restitution, perform 50 hours of community service work, offer a formal apology to the board and, as part of his conditions, he cannot attend any gambling establishments.

McWhinnie will serve the first six months of his sentence under house arrest and the second half on a curfew.

This will be followed by two years of probation. A second charge of fraud was dismissed.