Theft of $2.7M over 7 years nets lengthy prison term for Edmonton bookkeeper

For seven years, Francis Mella steadily stole from the corporate he was tasked with running financially.

Between 2008 and 2014, Mella transferred $2.7 million from Dave’s Diesel Restore — in Parkland County, west of Edmonton — to his personal money owed, all the even as pretending to be a close family member of the owner.

“I depended on the man with the whole lot,” Dave Szybunka told CBC News. “I Was accountable of giving him a place of authority. Because I depended on him.” 

In October, Mella, 61, was found to blame of fraud and theft in Edmonton Court Docket of Queen’s Bench. Ultimate week, Justice Robert Graesser sentenced Mella to ten years in jail.

The sentence was lowered to six years, 10 months to mirror a bunch of factors, including the time he has already served.

Szybunka feels vindicated, even though it’s been a long, tortuous highway to get to this point. 

“Smartly, he were given what he deserved, right?” Szybunka said. “However it is over. I’m happy that he used to be charged. He was once discovered responsible. It doesn’t subject what the sentence is.”

the two males have been strangers in 2008 while Szybunka employed Mella as a part-time accountant and bookkeeper. Szybunka had no passion in financial control and gave Mella nearly overall keep an eye on of that side of the industry. 

shortly, Mella started siphoning off finances. He set up four faux electronic payees that linked to his private credit cards and a Telpay account that associated with his non-public bank account. 

in the beginning, the transfers were reasonably small, but they grew in size and frequency when he continued to break out with the thefts.

Mella made 352 illegal transfers between 2008 and 2014. He stole $784,117.05 in 2013 on my own. 

Forensic accountants known as in

Through 2014, Dave’s Diesel Restore was once in monetary trouble.

“While the industry appeared to be failing and wanted funds to stay in operation, Mr. Szybunka cashed in RRSPs and injected the proceeds into the industry,” Graesser wrote.

Theft of $2.7M over 7 years nets lengthy prison term for Edmonton bookkeeper

Dave Szybunka, 60, behind the desk at Dave’s Diesel Restore in Parkland County west of Edmonton. (Submitted by means of Dave Szybunka) 

Mella stole that money too. 

“essentially the most telling facet of the case was Mr. Mella’s greed and entire fail to remember for Mr. Szybunka,” the pass judgement on wrote. “there has been no proof of any motive rather then greed.”

Szybunka referred to as in forensic accountants to check financial institution statements and corporate books. 

in no time, they recognized the electronic transfers to the 4 fake money owed. Ahead Of Szybunka may have the debts close down, Mella stole tens of hundreds of greenbacks more before deleting them himself.

Mella skipped the country  

Szybunka introduced a civil motion against Mella. In The End, Mella agreed to pay off $2.3 million, but by way of that point, Mella mentioned he had little left of the embezzled finances, thanks partly to his extravagant lifestyle. 

“He had a penthouse that I Was deciding to buy,” Szybunka stated. “He had a BMW. He had a few companies he was involved with. He lost the whole lot.”

Szybunka eventually mentioned the crimes to police. Mella used to be scheduled to visit trial in April 2019, however in late 2018 or early 2019, he fled to Belize.

At The Same Time As in Belize, Mella tried to extort Szybunka out of $350,000 by threatening to submit details about him on an internet site. Szybunka not noted the danger. 

Mella used to be sooner or later deported to Canada and was arrested in Would Possibly 2020 whilst he landed. 

Theft of $2.7M over 7 years nets lengthy prison term for Edmonton bookkeeper

Last week, Justice Robert Graesser, pictured here, sentenced Mella to 10 years in jail, which was reduced to six years, 10 months. (Alberta Courtroom of Queen’s Bench)

Whilst the case got to trial remaining October, Mella took the stand in his personal defence. He advised the pass judgement on that the switch of price range used to be performed so Szybunka may just pay his ex-spouse much less in a divorce cost.

The pass judgement on didn’t purchase it. 

“Mr. Mella was once neither a plausible or dependable witness,” Graesser wrote. “Mr. Mella can be a danger to any corporation who may choose to rent him in a position the place he could steal from that employer.”

Graesser ordered Mella to pay $2.5 million in restitution to Dave’s Diesel Repair, but noted the debt may by no means be paid. 

“From an ethical point of view, he must spend the remaining of his lifestyles working onerous to repay the debt,” Graesser wrote.

“He has common no responsibility but and has proven no remorse. He has not accounted for the stolen funds rather then in a normal approach. He could have squirreled away a few of the money.”

The pass judgement on also imposed a $ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE,000 high-quality in lieu of forfeiture that Mella can be given 10 years to pay once he’s launched from prison. 

Szybunka, 60, has managed to carry directly to his industry. In his sufferer affect commentary, he bitterly suggested he’d need to paintings until he’s EIGHTY as a result of the financial hollow. 

“My existence’s very tricky,” he told CBC News. “i can die prior to i’ve the whole thing bought and paid for.”

However, he added, “I’m k with that.”

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