Cornwall woman to pay back $16,500 in welfare

The Cornwall courthouse at 29 Second Street West. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – A Cornwall court has ordered a woman to pay back $16,500 in welfare payments she illegally obtained by not telling Ontario Works her living arrangements had changed.

A five day trial was supposed to start today (Monday) for 46-year-old Suzanne Desnoyers of Cornwall after she was charged in March 2018 with fraud over $5,000.

But court records show Desnoyers, represented by defence lawyer Neha Chugh, avoided a trial by pleading guilty to a lesser offence of obtaining something through false pretenses.

She was sentenced Sept. 9.

Under a conditional sentence, Desnoyers had to make an initial payment of $3,000 in the first week and then has to make $300 monthly payments for the next nine months (a total of $2,700).

During her three years probation, she will have to pay $300 a month during that time (a total of $10,800), records show.

As part of a conditional sentence and probation, if those payments are not made without a prior application to the court with a reasonable excuse, she could spend the balance of her sentence in jail.

When she was charged, Desnoyers was accused of receiving $57,654 from Ontario Works between August 2009 and March 2015.

There is a stand-alone restitution order for $54,654, according to court records, which the province could pursue through small claims court to recover the balance if it’s not paid.