Former clerk pleads guilty to stealing from Cornwall jeweller

Pommier Jewellers on Second Street East in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. Former sales associate Deborah Smith has pleaded guilty to theft after she voided invoices on 19 different times and pocketed nearly $2,500 in cash from the store's cash register. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – A former saleswoman at a prominent Cornwall jewellery store has pleaded guilty to stealing from her employer.

During a Zoom court appearance Thursday (Sept. 23), 58-year-old Deborah Smith pleaded guilty to theft under $5,000. She had been facing a charge of fraud over $5,000.

Court heard Smith had been a sales associate for nine years at Pommier Jewellers before she was terminated and escorted from the store by police in early 2019.

The stealing was uncovered after a customer came to the Second Street East store in February 2019 to pick up a ring. When the store checked the customer’s $315.27 invoice, it had been voided in the point of sale system. A couple of other customers came in the same week and had the same issue when making exchanges.

When store owners Andre and France Pommier went through their books, they found that all of the hard copies of the invoices in question had been marked as cash sales.

In a statement of facts, Crown attorney Jason Pilon explained how the scheme would work.

“A review of the (store’s) camera system showed Ms. Smith was using a manager’s code to void the cash transactions. Ms. Smith was seen on CCTV taking the cash from the register and placing into her pocket on 19 different occasions between Dec. 27, 2018 and March 2, 2019. The camera system only holds video for 60 days,” Pilon said.

Smith was terminated on March 8, 2019 and escorted from the store by police.

As part of the investigation Cornwall Police Service Det. Const. Matt Dupuis met with various Pommier clients “who all make purchases that were voided, who indicated they never voided the transactions and still had the item(s) in their possession,” Pilon recounted.

While the Pommiers believe, through their own investigation, the amount of suspected fraudulent transactions is “much higher,” Pilon said the amount provable by the Crown beyond a reasonable doubt for purposes of the plea deal is $2,467.42.

“I should indicate that there are other aspects of restitution that are being contemplated,” Pilon explained, noting that should be left for the sentencing judge, Deborah Kinsella.

When asked by Judge Peter Wright whether she disagreed with any of the facts, Smith simply said “no.”

Wright: “You agree those facts are correct?”

Smith: “Yes.”

Wright: “And you understand by entering a plea you’re giving up your right to a trial, you’re accepting responsibility and the court is not bound by any (sentencing) position that may have been communicated to you?”

Smith: “Yes.”

Wright: “And you still wish to proceed with the plea?”

Smith: “Yes.”

Wright then accepted her plea of guilt.

A pre-sentence report has been ordered before the case comes back to court in late November.

Both the Crown and defence are not on the same page when it comes to penalty, court heard. Sentencing arguments will be heard by Judge Deborah Kinsella.

Smith now lives in Pembroke.

She is being represented by Kirstin Macrae, a partner at Ottawa law firm Bayne Sellar Ertel Carter.