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Accused Okanagan hospice fraudster pleads guilty

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Accused Central Okanagan hospice fraudster pleads guilty – Feb 20, 2019

Sentencing has been deferred to next month in a major theft and fraud case involving an Okanagan non-profit organization.

A former Kelowna woman appeared Tuesday in Kamloops court, where she pled guilty to theft from an organization that cares for the dying.

Melanie Gray used to be the office manager for the Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA). She’s been in Kelowna court a couple of times since being charged with stealing nearly $70,000 from the non-profit organization. It allegedly started six years ago, using COHA’s credit card.

READ MORE: Kelowna woman jailed for Nanaimo hospice fraud

The charges against Gray are theft over $5,000 and fraud over $5,000.

Gray has since had her case transferred to Kamloops, where she now resides.

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She appeared Tuesday in Kamloops court, where she pleaded guilty to the theft charge. Gray will be sentenced next month in Kamloops.

But this dark chapter for COHA isn’t over.

Gray’s co-accused was her boss, Susan Steen. She was the executive director of COHA and is alleged to have stolen more than $100,000 from COHA over a four-year span — also using the hospice’s credit card.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Alleged Central Okanagan Hospice fraudster plans on pleading guilty

Steen is currently serving a four-month jail sentence after recently pleading guilty to stealing about $6,000 from the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society, where she was hired after leaving Kelowna.

Steen is due in court again in May to answer to the COHA theft and fraud charges. Court documents indicate that she intends to plead guilty. Considering that she was sentenced to four months in jail for stealing $6,000 from the Nanaimo hospice, she could be looking at even more jail time for stealing more than $100,000.

Steen maintains she had no idea Gray was stealing money from COHA at the same time she was.

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