A former employee of Island Savings Credit Union has been placed on probation for three years after stealing $101,297 over an 18-month period.
Nathan Rondeau pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of defrauding Island Savings Credit Union and TD Canada Trust of more than $5,000 between March 28, 2014, and Aug. 14, 2015.
The 36-year-old new father sighed with relief when he realized he would not go to jail. Family and friends who waited anxiously all day in court also appeared relieved when Judge Parker MacCarthy said he believed a suspended sentence with conditions to assist Rondeau’s rehabilitation was appropriate.
Court heard that Rondeau was an account manager at the credit union, a job he enjoyed.
When he found himself with credit card and car loan debt, he approached his employer with a request for a consolidation loan. He was refused.
Rondeau began an organized scheme of defrauding the credit union by creating false credit card applications, then using fraudulent credit lines to make nominal payments on the credit cards. He used the personal information of credit union clients and also created fictitious characters to apply for loans, credit lines and credit cards.
“Funds went from account to account, credit card to credit card,” MacCarthy said.
During this time, Rondeau became depressed and anxious. He started using cocaine, and the drug quickly took over his life. He was soon using $200 to $400 of cocaine each day.
“What started out as a scheme to deal with his financial problems, soon went to support his drug habit,” MacCarthy said.
Like many people involved in fraudulent activity, Rondeau had an unrealistic expectation that he would be able to pay the money back, the judge said.
Eventually, Rondeau left Island Savings and went to a position with more responsibility at another credit union.
It didn’t take long for the fraud to be discovered at Island Savings.
A client came in to pay off her credit card balance and found an unauthorized account had been opened in her name.
A former colleague called Rondeau and asked for an explanation. Rondeau confessed he had committed some offences and asked the colleague to keep it quiet. The colleague refused.
The matter was reported to corporate security, then the police. Rondeau was arrested in June 2016.
In a five-page letter to the court, Rondeau reflected on the past 500 days of his life.
Each day has been painful and he has been in a state of complete misery, he wrote.
He has spent every day in a complete sense of remorse and knows he will have a black stain attached to his name, he said. He knows he has lost the respect of family and friends.
MacCarthy noted Rondeau has no criminal record and has shown significant contrition and remorse. He has taken counselling and has dealt with his addiction in a positive manner. He is also working six days a week at two jobs to support his partner and six-week-old daughter.
“He has fallen to the lowest point of his life, but has taken remedial steps,” the judge said.
MacCarthy found the aggravating factors to be that Rondeau abused a position of trust, the large amount of money stolen, the large number of transactions over an extended period of time, his request to his colleague to keep quiet about the offence and the planning that went into the scheme.
The mitigating factors are Rondeau’s early guilty plea, his expression of remorse and acceptance of responsibility, the support of family, friends and colleagues and the publicity surrounding the case.
Rondeau must follow a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the first 60 days of his probation. He is not allowed to consume alcohol or controlled substances.
He must complete any counselling as directed by his probation officer and must complete 40 hours of community service in the first 24 months of his probation order.
Rondeau must also make restitution payments and submit a sample of his DNA to the authorities.