Theft trial hears about debit transactions

A former employee of a store in Red Deer is on trial this week, accused of using the businesses’s debit machine to steal more than $26,000.

A former employee of a store in Red Deer is on trial this week, accused of using the businesses’s debit machine to steal more than $26,000.

Allegations against Jennifer Dunn, 32, were brought to police in April 2006, when store owner Brent Stromsmoe laid a complaint based on discrepancies his accounting firm found in his records.

Cpl. Francois Decelles, who was on general assignment with the Red Deer City RCMP at the time, testified on Monday that he performed a series of records searches.

In introducing his findings, Decelles testified that the debit machines are set up to allow a retail clerk to refund amounts that have been accidentally overcharged on debit purchases.

He listed a series of refund transactions that exactly matched deposits to two bank accounts, one in Dunn’s name and the other a joint account with her husband. The transactions totalled $26,655.08, including $13,648.30 to her personal account and $13,006.78 to the joint account.

Other witnesses testified to questions of whether there was a sexual or romantic relationship between Dunn and Stromsmoe.

Const. Benjamin Martin Burke, who worked in Olds from 2005 through 2010, said he was asked in March 2006 to look into Dunn’s allegations that Stromsmoe had assaulted her. He said he interviewed her and later passed the investigation onto a female officer.

Burke said the file remained active with a number of officers involved until the fall of 2007, when a senior officer decided that no charges would be laid.

Stromsmoe, 62, then testified under questioning from Crown prosecutor Wayne Silliker that he was diagnosed in 2004 with Parkinson’s disease and had suffered behaviour and other mental affects from a drug that was part of his treatment.

Stromsmoe, a lifetime resident of Olds, said the drug created behaviour changes, which led him to form the gambling addiction that last year resulted in the end of his marriage.

He said he also suffers short- and long-term memory loss as a result of the treatment.

He couldn’t remember if he harboured any romantic feelings for Dunn, whom he said he has known since she was a child of five or six years old.

Stromsmoe said he employed her at a gas bar he owned in Olds and then hired her at the store he and his former wife operated in Red Deer.

But he could not remember when those two terms of employment took place, nor could he remember the reason he hired Dunn for the Red Deer store.

He said there were a number of times that she was left to run the store while fed his addiction.

The trial resumes today in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.

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