A sentence of 12 months in prison was handed down Friday to Charles Joshua ‘Josh’ Cahoon, who stole $29,000 from the Chilliwack Giants football organization.
Before Judge Richard Browning delivered his sentencing decision in Chilliwack Law Courts, Cahoon stood before the bench to read a statement.
“Your honour I stand before you ready to accept the consequences for my poor choices, which have affected so many families within this community,” Cahoon, 42, said.
“I am truly sorry for those choices.”
Cahoon was charged with theft in 2018 when as volunteer treasurer on the Chilliwack Giants board, Cahoon wrote himself cheques of nearly $2,000 each, totalling $29,000. He then electronically deposited the funds in his own bank account. He was first charged with theft over $5,000 and later the more serious charge of fraud over $5,000, when there was evidence he had tried to conceal the fraud, which delayed its discovery.
When Cahoon was making his statement to the court on April 1, he noted the judge had two choices, either to send him to jail, or allow him to serve out the sentence in the community as a conditional sentence order.
What made this one situation different from his prior convictions, he said, was seeing for himself the pain his actions have caused. Since Cahoon was charged, he’s been in therapy, rebuilding trust with his family and has obtained the full support of his new employer.
Cahoon has been able to repay all the Giants’ stolen funds, as well as money he borrowed from his father. Making full restitution in that way was something new, as he did not manage to repay previous restitution orders.
“I plead with this court to allow me to serve my sentence in the community to continue the progress of rebuilding, and continue to be a contributing member of society and not someone who is a burden on it,” Cahoon said before the judge sentenced him.
Crown counsel had been seeking a period of incarceration from 12 to 18 months, followed by probation conditions.
Cahoon’s lawyer Jayse Reveley argued he should not go to jail, instead asking the judge to hand him a conditional sentence order, of two years less a day, to be served in the community rather than in jail.
But the 2018 offences weren’t the first time Cahoon had stolen money from an organization, as someone in a position of trust. More than a decade ago, while working as an accountant for two organizations, he stole thousands of dollars from the Kamloops Wildlife Park Society and Valleyview Lands Limited Partnership, a company behind a housing development in Kamloops.
Judge Browning had asked for more time to make his decision in February, but was ready to deliver his reasons for judgment on April 1.
The judge sentenced Cahoon to “12 months of imprisonment” followed by 18 months probation. There were both aggravating and mitigating factors mentioned in his reasons.
The court heard that Cahoon has paid all the money he’d stolen back to the youth football organization and that he had pleaded guilty to the fraud on June 29, 2021. But the repayment didn’t completely cover the losses of $50,000 in gaming grants that the football club did not receive while the investigation was underway. The aftermath of the thefts was described as leaving the organization in a state of “toxicity.”
A psychiatric report on Cahoon indicated “his pride” may have contributed to the offence, as he struggled to provide for his family.
“He failed to inform others about financial difficulties and sought to solve the issue on his own,” the judge said, noting earlier that Cahoon had amassed debts of $450,000.
The psychiatric report did not attribute “an assessment of risk of recidivism,” however the recommendations indicated that Cahoon should not be placed in a position, either as a volunteer or as an employee, where he has “access to cash or assets,” and that he would benefit from additional counselling.
“Mr. Cahoon has made restitution of the monies stolen prior to sentencing in this case, and I do consider that a mitigating factor,” the judge said.
“However I am bound to follow the decision of the Court of Appeal in Regina vs Merkel. The payment of restitution prior to sentence is not, in my view, sufficient to find that a conditional sentence is consistent with deterrence and denunciation.”
There were several conditions added to the probation order, including one that Cahoon not possess any identification documents, including credit cards, debit cards, cheques, birth certificates and more. He is prohibited from possessing credit card data, and before seeking employment or a volunteer position of authority over property, money, or securities, Cahoon must provide a copy of the order.
—with files from Paul Henderson
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