Bookkeeper ordered to pay back over $140,000

Court calls Judith Kendrick’s actions fraud or breach of fiduciary duty

A bookkeeper will have to pay back $140,134.42 in damages for a fraud deemed “not extremely sophisticated.”

Judith Kendrick made direct electronic transfers to herself out of a personal bank account of her client, another account under a business name and transactions from a credit union account for a numbered company. A total of $105, 134.42 was stolen.

Glen Erhardt was an independent delivery driver contracted with Purolator to deliver packages in the Penticton area. When a friend heard that he was looking for a bookkeeper he suggested his own, Kendrick, who was looking to possibly make some extra money.

“Regrettably, she used her position of trust to embezzle the plaintiff of a significant amount of money,” it was written in the Supreme Court judgement by Justice Miriam Maisonville.

Money was taken over the course of approximately two years. A portion of the claim stating cash advances were also taken from a Visa credit card could not be proven.

“I am satisfied that it has been proven on a balance of probabilities that there was a fraud and defalcation by the defendant, who stood in a fiduciary capacity to the plaintiff who relied upon her to assist him in his business as his bookkeeper. Instead, the defendant took advantage of the plaintiff’s naivety and stole and defrauded him of a significant amount of money,” it said in the judgement.

Court documents said Erhardt confronted Kendrick about what was occurring and met her in the parking lot of Cherry Lane Shopping Centre on Jan. 27, 2016 where she gave him a written confession to the theft and promised repayment. The written confession said she owed him approximately $65,000, and would return the money. Kendrick said she had an open ICBC claim for an accident and when it was settled she would return all money taken plus any extra cost incurred due to her actions.

“In the mean time I shall give you what I have. On Friday, Jan. 28, 2016, I shall give you $900. And I am in the process of selling my current vehicle and when that sells all the proceeds will go directly to Glen Erhardt,” Kendrick wrote in the confession. “I admit my actions have caused undo stress on Glen Erhardt and I sincerely apologize for my actions.”

Erhardt said in his affidavit he believes he has lost more than $125,000, but due to the financial situation she left him in, and “her apparent inability to pay a judgement,” he was not in the position to pay an accountant to fully audit his books or determine the scope of her theft. He said he has already paid close to $10,000 in accounting fees to sort out the issues she caused him.

Erhardt said the loss of his money has caused a huge impact on his life, delaying his retirement, scaling back his standard of living for the rest of his life. He now suffers from anxiety, had to sell his home in Summerland, cash in his life insurance policy, sell personal property and cut back on spending.

“I’ve spent many nights lying awake over this, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I feel sick to my stomach when I think about it,” said Erhardt in the judgement. “I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up over what happened. I feel foolish for the trust that I placed in Ms. Kendrick and the way that I let her take advantage of me.”

The theft has also had an impact on the friendship he had with the man who suggested Kendrick, who did not believe she would do such a thing until he was shown her confession.

Kendrick, who appeared in court earlier in the proceedings, did not show for the decision and did not respond back to any notifications by the Supreme Court scheduling. A total of $68,000 from Kendrick was put in a trust account at the outset of the trial and was ordered in the judgement to be given to Erhardt.

The theft was reported to RCMP on March 11, 2016 and Erhardt attended the detachment the following day. The court documents state no action was taken by RCMP, despite Erhardt’s statements to the police. Kendrick does have one count of fraud dating from Dec. 1, 2014 and her next court appearance is scheduled for May 31.