Ellen Norris worked at Megatech, where she committed mega theft.
Now, the former Surrey bookkeeper is serving a four-and-a-half-year prison term and must repay $2,319,844.87 of the nearly $2.9 million she bilked from her former employer, Megatech Engineering Limited.
Megatech, located in Port Kells, is a steel fabricating company that started in 1986, and numbers BC Ferries and several mining companies and pulp mills among its clients.
Norris was in charge of the company's payroll and had signing authority on its chequing accounts between May 2000 and September 2005.
She pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000, in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster recently.
Justice Robert Crawford noted her motive was "avarice; simple greed," which drove Megatech and her 35 coworkers "right to the wall."
It was "happenstance," he noted, that did Norris in when a Workers' Compensation Board audit found a discrepancy between her T4 income for 2004 and the company's payroll ledger.
Digging deeper, the accountant found Norris had signed 577 company cheques totaling $2,633.537.90 to her benefit. This included $1.2 million in payments to American Express, $371,000 to Diners Club, $48,000 to MasterCard, $532,000 to CIBC Visa, $76,000 to National Bank MasterCard and $238,000 for miscellaneous stuff.
"It is admittedly amazing that there are charges of over $3,000 at various dress places," Crawford noted.
On one day Norris spent $2,880 at a boutique in Toronto and then spent $5,092 at another women's clothing store that same day.
She'd also spent "amazing amounts" on jewellery, Crawford noted.
Norris's boss confronted her after the accountant reported his findings. She confessed immediately, and was fired.
"The damage to the company which apparently has some 35 employees was considerable and threw it to the edge of bankruptcy," Crawford noted.
"Ms. Norris has evidently not kept anything of value. I am left to wonder what happened to all the incredibly expensive clothing and valuable jewellery."
Norris, 64, has two adult children. She separated from her husband in 1991.
"The stolen monies appear to be simply spent on herself and presumably spread around her friends and family who would appreciate the largesse. Sometimes there are food bills or restaurant bills of $1,000. It may be that others had some enjoyment but obviously Ms. Norris spent far beyond her $60,000 a year in salary," Crawford said at sentencing.
@ Copyright 2013