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Former Alberta charity treasurer sentenced for fraud, must pay back $206K

Click to play video: 'Edmonton father sentenced for stealing from children’s charity'
Edmonton father sentenced for stealing from children’s charity
WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton man will spend two years behind bars for stealing more than $200,000 from a local children's charity - one that helped him and his family. Kendra Slugoski has more – Jan 25, 2018

The former treasurer of a local children’s non-profit group pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 on Thursday and was sentenced to two years behind bars.

Asa Wedman, who was the treasurer of the Children’s Heart Society until the fall of 2016, was also ordered to pay back $206,281.20.

Wedman, 41, broke down in court Thursday morning and sobbed.

Through tears he said, “I would just like to say that I am truly sorry… sorry to the Children’s Heart Society and people who put their trust in me.”

Wedman’s lawyer, Edmond O’Neill, said his client feels guilty and ashamed. He told the judge Wedman has lost his good name and his wife left him.

O’Neill called the fraud “unsophisticated,” and told the court that Wedman had lost his job and intended to take a little bit of money to support his family. He said the money was not spent on luxuries, which he said was not an excuse, but an explanation.

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READ MORE: Treasurer charged with defrauding Children’s Heart Society over $200K 

Wedman and his family used the Children’s Heart Society for support. One of his children was diagnosed with a heart defect. That child was born deaf, is legally blind and non-verbal. He is now seven but his life expectancy is between 10 and 15 years.

“He does have a sympathetic back story and we were very appreciative of his apology,” Children’s Heart Society president Andrea Luft said.

“It certainly doesn’t make it OK, it’s not an excuse, it doesn’t fix what he’s done but knowing that he is remorseful… that is as comforting as I suppose it can be.”

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Luft read a victim impact statement in court on Thursday about how Wedman’s actions impacted the charity and the families it helps. Scroll down to read it in full.

“For a while, when we couldn’t provide our regular programming, it was very upsetting,” she said. “They rely on our programming. We provide family support systems and networks, and without that, our families felt a little lost.”

Asa Wedman appeared on Global News Morning Edmonton on April 30, 2016 for an interview about a Children’s Heart Society event. File/Global News

Wedman was ordered to pay back the money by the end of December. A civil suit has also been filed by the charity.

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He was charged in May 2017 with two counts of theft over $5,000 and two counts of fraud over $5,000 in connection with fraud totalling more than $206,000.

An investigation began in the fall of 2016 and uncovered “multiple fraudulent transactions” withdrawn from the Children’s Heart Society bank accounts.

In an agreed statement of facts, both sides said the transactions were made between November 2013 and September 2016.

“It made us a lot more cautious,” Luft said. “We always had checks and balances in place but now we’ve really realized that there are people out in the world that do things that seem unimaginable.”

Edmonton police and the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission worked together on the six-month investigation. It uncovered that Wedman signed 46 cheques from the charity’s general account between Nov. 27, 2013 and Sept. 1, 2016, totalling $121,022.62, according to the statement.

“The cheques were deposited to Wedman’s personal RBC bank account. Additional cheques totalling $85,258.58 were drawn on the Children’s Heart Society’s gaming accounts and deposited to Wedman’s personal RBC bank account,” court documents said.

Wedman was removed from his position with the charity in November 2016.

The Children’s Heart Society filed a lawsuit against Wedman and two banks on Jan. 5, 2017.

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The society is a non-profit charitable organization that offers support, education, research and awareness for children affected by congenital and acquired heart disease and their families.

Victim Impact Statement: Andrea Luft (Children’s Heart Society president) by Anonymous TdomnV9OD4 on Scribd

— With files from Kendra Slugoski

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