Woman blames stress for her crimes

Stress from illness is what a Penticton woman said led her down the path to stealing in excess of $400,000 from her employer over a period of five years.

Stress from illness is what a Penticton woman said led her down the path to stealing in excess of $400,000 from her employer over a period of five years.

According to the reasons for sentence released this week, Nicole Simone Cuylle worked in various capacities at the Penticton Lakeside Resort from 1985 until 2008 when the misappropriation of funds came to light.

“The stress of dealing with my (breast) cancer along with the stress of not being financially secure caused me to make the poor decision of taking monies from the Lakeside,” said Cuylle in a letter marked as Exhibit Two. “If I had been of clear mind and thought about what I was doing, I would have never done this. The temptation was just too strong to resist. I have never broken the law before and I understand that I need to be punished for what I did.”

The sentence report says Cuylle, 50, was involved in a relationship with a man who abused alcohol and drugs. After the relationship terminated in 1998, and the man died of a drug overdose sometime after, Cuylle was left to raise her two teenage children.

At the time of her sentencing for theft over $5,000 and fraud over $5,000 on April 26, Cuylle was employed by Canada Post, and asked to serve her sentence in the community to remain with her children to support them emotionally and financially. Judge Gale Sinclair said although there has been some restitution and some “begrudging remorse,” the accused continues to minimize the amount she took. He said time in prison is the only way to deter others from similar conduct and found 27 months imprisonment, a federal penitentiary term, was appropriate.

“I suspect that the accused started with the intention of taking a relatively small amount of money. However, it became an easy thing for her to take a large amount of money over a five-year period. Thus, her criminal conduct was planned and persistent,” said Sinclair.

The reasons for sentence document states one exhibit at trial showed an amount of $423,715 taken. The accused acknowledged in a letter at the sentence hearing that she took in the order of $25,000 to $30,000. Sinclair noted at trial that Cuylle and her former employer reached a settlement in Supreme Court. At the sentence hearing Sinclair said he was told the civil settlement involved Cuylle transferring her condominium to her employer, who ended up recovering $244,000.

“As I remarked at the sentence hearing, one would not transfer title to one’s condominium and allow the employer to recover $244,000 if the amount taken was only $25,000 at the low and $60,000 at the high as suggested by the accused and her counsel,” said Sinclair. “I am satisfied that the accused wrongfully took between $244,000 and $423,715 from her employer and that the exact amount was closer to the $423,000 odd figure calculated by Const. Desmond of the RCMP.”