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The Edmonton Journal
Florence Loyie, Edmonton Journal
Published: Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Judge rejects claim she suffered from mental disorder
Patricia Potter’s history of deceit has nothing to do with an alleged mental disorder, a provincial court judge said as as she handed the woman a one-year jail sentence for embezzling $43,000 from Depression and Manic Depression Association of Alberta.
Judge Fern LeReverend also ordered the ex-treasurer to repay $19,250 to the Lethbridge branch of the Alberta Mental Health Board for booklets on depression it ordered, but never received. She said she was unable to order full restitution of the stolen funds because the non-profit association has folded, in part because of Potter’s theft.
Potter, 57, wiped away a few tears after she was sentenced. Her sister ran out the courtroom crying when the sheriffs showed up to escort Potter to jail.
LeReverend said while she considered the fact Potter has readily admitted her guilt from the day she was charged, and she has shown genuine remorse for her crime, she stole from a vulnerable volunteer-driven association which entrusted her with its financial assets.
Her actions were not impulsive, but “planned and persistent. They only stopped when she was terminated.”Over the course of 19 months, from March 2000 and October, 2001, Potter coerced the association’s secretary, a woman with a bipolar disorder, into co-sighing a total of 27 cheques totally some $43,200. The stolen funds are a significant amount and Potter has made no effort to repay any of it, the judge noted.
There is also a clinical psychologist’s report which found Potter would likely reoffend if presented with an opportunity because of her tendency to play “fast and loose with other people’s money,” LeReverend said.
The report also found that while Potter takes medication for depression, she does not suffer from any kind of mental disorder despite her belief she does, she said.
Potter’s “moral blame worthiness is high” in this case and not deserving of a conditional sentence, LeReverend said.