A woman accused of stealing lottery tickets has been ordered to pay back losses worth almost half a million dollars.
Manitoba Ltd., known as the Sportsman’s Stop Esso, is a company that owns a small gas station and convenience store in Dugald, Manitoba. Sportsman’s has accused Cynthia Hallick of “stealing scratch and win tickets.”
Hallick has worked for the company as a clerk since March 2011 and, according to court documents, the theft took place from 2015 until 2019, “during which time she is alleged to have stolen a vast quantity of lottery tickets, resulting in a net loss of $425,755.92.”
And now she’s being ordered to pay it back.
Hallick started working part-time at the store in 2011, where she “quickly established herself as a dedicated and reliable employee” and was promoted to assistant manager.
As assistant manager, she was in charge of scheduling other employees and placing orders for cigarettes, tobacco, and lottery tickets. She also had the keys to the strong box that contained unactivated scratch-and-win lottery tickets. The document also notes that during her 10 am to 4 pm shift from Monday to Thursday, she was “often the only employee on staff.”
Concerned about the store’s financial performance, the owner brought in an accountant “because the numbers for 2018 were not adding up.”
That’s when it was determined that the company was losing money on lottery sales.
“This puzzled Mr. Cavell because, in theory, it was impossible to lose on lottery sales since Sportsman’s only paid Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MLCC) for tickets sold and received a 5% commission on each sale,” reads the document. “He concluded someone must be stealing tickets from Sportsman’s.”
On June 6, 2019, a secretly recorded video showed Hallick taking unactivated scratch-and-win tickets “without ever paying for them.” She then activated the tickets before scratching them to see if they were winners.
“She is occasionally seen taking cash from the till and putting it in her purse,” reads the statement. She was then fired from her job.
Hallick said she became addicted to gambling but “denied ever stealing tickets from Sportsman’s.”
“According to her, the behaviour exhibited on the video recording of June 6, 2019, merely reflects the extent of her addiction,” continued the document. “On that day, she had intended to leave an IOU posted by the cash register for the tickets she had taken and simply forgot to do so.”
Justice Theodor Bock stated that “the case against Ms. Hallick remains overwhelming” and has ordered her to pay back the loss worth $425,755.92.
He stated that he made this decision reluctantly, comparing it to a life sentence in economic terms.
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“It would take Ms. Hallick over 28,000 hours of work at $15 per hour just to retire the principal amount of her judgment debt,” he stated. “Given the difficult personal circumstances that seem to have contributed to Ms. Hallick’s current situation, this seems cruel, and one hopes others may take the same view.
“Despite my reluctance, however, I find Ms. Hallick’s theft of Sportsman’s lottery tickets did arise while she was acting in a fiduciary capacity.”
Hallick has been charged with one count of theft over $5,000. She pleaded guilty in March last year but has “since taken steps to withdraw her plea.”
Now, charges against her remain pending.