Woman to pay back $425K in stolen lottery tickets from gas station, court decides
A Manitoba justice has decided a woman accused of stealing lottery tickets over a more than four-year period while working at a gas station will have to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A statement of claim filed against Cynthia Hallick in Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench in June 2019, alleges the woman stole a ‘vast quantity’ of lottery tickets while working at the Sportsman’s Stop Esso in Dugald, Man. between 2015 and June 2019. The claim says the theft led to a net loss of $425,755.92.
Hallick denied the allegations in a statement of defence filed months later.
However, in his written decision released last month, Justice Theodor Bock said the case against Hallick is ‘overwhelming.’
In his review of the facts of the case, Bock said Hallick started working at the gas station in 2011 on a part-time basis and was later given the position of assistant manager – a role in which she was responsible for placing orders for lottery tickets and holding the keys to the strong box containing the unactivated lottery tickets.
Bock said in 2019 the owner of the gas station was notified by his accountant that the finances were not adding up, later determining the station was losing money in lottery sales.
“In theory it was impossible to lose on lottery sales, since Sportsman’s only paid Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, for tickets sold, and received a (five per cent) commission on each sale,” Bock wrote in his decision.
Bock said the accountant concluded the tickets were being stolen.
Bock said to test their theory, the owner of the shop ‘surreptitiously video-recorded’ Hallick as she worked her shift on June 6, 2019. The video was later filed as an exhibit at trial.
“Several times through the course of her shift Ms. Hallick can be seen taking unactivated scratch and win tickets from behind the cashier’s counter without ever paying for them,” Bock said in his decision, adding the owner determined this led to a loss of $938 in lottery ticket sales revenue that day.
Bock said Hallick was let go after that incident.
In his written decision, Bock said he found Hallick did steal lottery tickets resulting in a loss of $425,755.92 to the gas station.
He said Hallick breached her fiduciary duty by, “taking advantage of Sportsman’s trust to steal lottery tickets when she was alone at the store, so enriching herself at Sportsman’s expense.”
Bock called the decision a “life sentence,” in economic terms.
“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 said. “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.”
Bock said, despite his reluctance, he finds Hallick’s theft happened while she was acting in a fiduciary capacity.
Bock said Hallick has been charged with one count of theft over $5,000 in connection with the stolen lottery tickets. He said in his decision, the charge remains pending.
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