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Crown seeks prison time for ex-bureaucrat

Jun 14 2012

A former government employee who defrauded the province by forging his criminal record check to get a job should receive at least a two-year federal prison sentence, a Crown prosecutor said Wednesday.

Richard Wainwright breached the public trust and his government oath with a calculated, sustained and sophisticated fraud, prosecutor Marian Brown said.

"The risk to vulnerable government clients in this case was enormous," Brown told a provincial court judge in Colwood.

Wainwright, a former supervisor in the Ministry of Children and Family Development, was found guilty last month of fraud and forgery for altering his criminal record check form in 2006 to hide his criminal convictions and land a government job.

Crown and defence lawyers were in court Wednesday to argue the length of his sentence.

Brown said Wainwright should receive federal jail time of between 24 and 30 months, rather than a lesser sentence, in part because he forged the criminal record check while still serving a conditional sentence for theft, counterfeit and forgery convictions from Kamloops.

"Mr. Wainwright may claim some degree of remorse, but as he expressed in the presentence report, it seems to be a self-centred type of remorse, more like an excuse," Brown said.

"I recall from the presentence report that he commented that it wasn't like he just stole money. Instead, he used his criminal skills to get a job."

Brown also asked for Wainwright to repay $137,238.93 in salary and benefits he earned during his government employment.

She noted the government spent considerable time reviewing Wainwright's client files after his arrest, as well as conducting internal investigations into policies and procedures.

The case led to a tighter criminal record check requirement for civil servants.

Defence lawyer Kirk Karaszkiewicz argued that Wainwright should receive a provincial conditional sentence that he could serve in the community.

Wainwright suffers "deep trauma" from abuse as a child, as well as posttraumatic stress syndrome, severe depression, repeated suicide attempts and past drug and alcohol addictions, Karaszkiewicz told the court, referencing presentencing and psychiatric reports.

But he is turning his life around, has beaten his addictions and is enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Victoria, Karaszkiewicz said.

Wainwright has also suffered "plenty of publicity" about his case in the media, Karaszkiewicz said.

He should not have to pay back his salary, Karaszkiewicz said.

"Having got the job illegally, that's understood, he nevertheless performed the job very well and, in fact, did the things he was supposed to do to earn a salary," Karaszkiewicz said.

Judge Loretta Chaperon said she would try to deliver her sentence Friday.

rshaw@timescolonist.com