OSHAWA, Ont. – Former OBAC accountant Anthony Leckie was in the depths of a midlife crisis when he defrauded OBAC of tens of thousands of dollars, according to his lawyer, Alex Sosna.
Leckie, who pled guilty July 6 to defrauding Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada, will be required to pay OBAC a total of $49,319 – the amount which he was found guilty of defrauding from the association.
He will also be required to serve 12 months of house arrest.
Sosna presented a letter he said demonstrated Leckie’s state of mind during the sentencing hearing for Leckie, held Oct. 18 in Oshawa court and presided over by the Honourable Mr. Justice James J. Keaney.
Sosna said Leckie had written the letter last July to his psychiatrist. He said he submitted the letter so Justice Keaney could better “appreciate the depths my client had sunken into.
“Mr. Leckie’s severe case of depression at the time overrides the addiction,” said Sosna, as he handed the letter to Justice Keaney.
Leckie was 59-years-old at the time of the offense and was in the midst of the “epitome of a midlife crisis” Sosna said.
“He committed a blatantly obvious theft, went to Montreal, changed his name and faked suicide and luckily his kids found him and brought him back. To say he is humiliated and embarrassed by what he did is an understatement.”
Leckie’s mental state should not be viewed as a crutch but rather as an explanation, added Sosna.
As part of his statement, Sosna added that Leckie is still under care of a psychiatrist and is taking anti-depressant medication. He is getting support from family and friends and has set goals for himself – including paying back his debts to OBAC, said Sosna.
Leckie, a chartered accountant, was hired by OBAC to manage the association’s finances in the summer of 2002. In September of that year, Leckie disappeared. So did a substantial amount of money and many of the association’s financial records.
At the time of Leckie’s disappearance, OBAC officials estimated up to $80,000 in funds was missing. That number, however, was hard to substantiate, since many of OBAC’s financial records were also missing, and still are to this day.
Leckie turned himself in to Durham police in January of this year.
He then made several court appearances, followed by a guilty plea in July.
As of his sentencing Oct. 18, Leckie will be allowed to leave his home for religious, medical, dental or legal appointments.
He will also be allowed to continue to work. According to Leckie’s lawyer Sosna, Leckie will continue his employment at an Oshawa chartered accounting firm, “under someone’s wing.” Sosna said Leckie will also continue to tutor Masters students in accounting.
(Leckie is not currently registered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, but he used to be, according to an institute staffer. Leckie was registered in the summer of 2002, when he was hired by OBAC, but his designation was suspended in October 2003 and terminated the following December. The institute staffer could not say whether the suspension and subsequent termination of Leckie’s designation were related to the charges laid against him, but did say lapsed memberships are usually due to non-payment of membership fees.)
During his house arrest, Leckie will also be required to keep the peace. He must not consume alcohol or take any drugs or substances other than prescribed medications.
And he must report to an Oshawa parole officer every two days and must be in possession of a readable copy of his sentence any time he is away from his home.
He is also not permitted to have guests in his home for the duration of the sentence but will be allowed to look after any personal matters from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
OBAC’s executive director, Joanne Ritchie, submitted a victim impact statement for the judge’s consideration when sentencing Leckie.
In it, she discusses the “damage control” that the association had to conduct after Leckie absconded with OBAC’s funds and financial records. For the full statement see page 11.
Crown attorney Michael Hill explained the key points of Ritchie’s impact statement before the court during Leckie’s Oct. 18 sentencing appearance.
“It was a breach of trust situation over a contractual period of time and the impact of the offense was eye opening because it was not a victimless crime,” said Hill.
“This type of offense usually affects a large company and doesn’t hurt individuals. However this one did. Some people could have been employed by this association but as a result were not. The business used their own resources to try to cope while they figured out where the money went so there were real people hurt in this situation. The aggravating factors speak for themselves.”
Much, if not all, of the fraudulent money was spent on the gambling addiction Leckie was suffering from at the time, according to Hill.
Leckie’s lawyer, Alex Sosna of Oshawa, had no objections to the impact statement.
Both Sosna and Hill requested a conditional sentence but Sosna asked for a six-to-nine month sentence whereas the Crown attorney asked for a year.
When asked by Judge Keaney if he had anything to add, Leckie said: “I do apologize for what I’ve done, but right now it’s hard to speak. With the help of friends and family, I will get better,” said Leckie.
Judge Keaney concluded that it was clear Leckie invoked a devastating fraud that had a huge impact on his employer and his co-workers, leaving the organization in a financial and HR deficit.
“Considering the early guilty plea, the acceptance of remorse and the expression of apology, a 12 month term of imprisonment within the community is an appropriate sentence,” said Judge Keaney. n