Nyla Diane Ross was given a conditional discharge, two years of probation and 300 hours of community service work after pleading guilty to a charge of theft over $5,000.
According to a court transcript from the case heard before Judge James O. Wingham in Powell River Provincial Court on June 20, Ross, at the time of the offences, was the recreation office coordinator at Powell River Recreation Complex and part of her responsibility was to take the deposits from the centre and deposit them at the First Credit Union in Powell River.
Wingham stated that over the period in question, Ross stole $38,272.25 that was not recovered. The court transcript stated that Ross would open the deposit bags and envelopes, take the money and alter the deposit slips, sometimes forging the signature of the clerk who had made out the deposit slip.
The theft was discovered after the senior accountant noticed discrepancies and went to the RCMP. The police, according to Wingham, put Ross under surveillance and subsequently arrested her. The court transcript indicates the police found open deposit bags in her home and her vehicle. Drug paraphernalia and 0.8 grams of fentanyl were found in her purse. In her home, $31,000 in cash and cheques were found and those amounts were returned to City of Powell River.
Upon her arrest, Ross accepted responsibility and gave a statement admitting her guilt. Wingham said Ross had taken the money to support a drug habit, which was costing her between $400 and $500 a week.
According to the court documents, Ross offered to pay the city back the money she stole but the city declined the offer. A letter from the city reads as follows:
“On September 19, Nyla Ross did admit to being responsible for the theft of money while employed as recreation office coordinator with the City of Powell River. Nyla Ross did offer to pay back the money through a repayment plan. The city has decided that entering into a repayment plan with Nyla Ross was not in the best interest of either party and would leave Nyla Ross in a state of low income for the duration of the repayment plan.”
City chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said the city recovered the loss through an insurance claim.
The court documents reveal that Ross, since being arrested and charged, has taken steps to rehabilitate herself, having engaged in treatment and therapy.
The Crown had been seeking a 90-day jail sentence and two years of probation in the case.
Wingham stated that “in this case, it would clearly be in Ms. Ross’s interest to have a discharge.” He stated it would not be contrary to the public interest. Ross worked for City of Powell River for 38 years and left her job as a result of these offences.
The Crown acknowledged that Ross has suffered a loss of reputation in the community. That, stated Wingham, together with the length of the probation order he imposed and the conditions of the order, would, in his view, address the need for general deterrence.