Doubt cast on who ordered theft; clerk cleared of illegal transactions

A retail clerk has been found not guilty of using debit machine transactions to steal money from her employer’s former business located in Red Deer.

A retail clerk has been found not guilty of using debit machine transactions to steal money from her employer’s former business located in Red Deer.

Jennifer Dunn, 32, was on trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench this week, charged with stealing more than $26,000 in a series of transactions put through as overcharge refunds during the fall of 2005.

The Crown’s case ran into a snag on Monday when new evidence was presented, indicating the potential for Dunn to have run the transactions at the bidding of her employer, Brent Stromsmoe, who had been feeding a serious gambling addiction.

Stromsmoe, 62, operated the store, which belonged to a limited and numbered company he owned with his former wife.

In court on Tuesday, Phyllis Stromsmoe testified that her ex-husband’s gambling had left him broke and that, had it continued, he would have been driven into bankruptcy. The Stromsmoes were divorced last year.

Brent Stromsmoe testified on Monday that he experienced behaviour changes as a result of a drug he was using to treat Parkinson’s disease, which was diagnosed in 2004. He testified that while he is no longer using the drug, it had generated behaviour changes that led to a gambling addiction as well as short-term and long-term memory loss.

Following Phyllis Stromsmoe’s testimony on Tuesday morning, Crown prosecutor Wayne Silliker told the court that he did not have enough evidence to prove that the transactions were not made under Brent Stromsmoe’s direction.

Based on Silliker’s submission, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Suzanne Bensler ruled Dunn not guilty of the charge.

Dunn’s counsel, David Inglis, was not required to present a defence beyond his cross-examination of the witnesses.

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