Insurance broker gets 15 months in jail

Joanne Walker is sentenced to two years in prison plus two years probation for insurance fraud she committed between July 2004 and July 2005,…

Joanne Walker is sentenced to two years in prison plus two years probation for insurance fraud she committed between July 2004 and July 2005, territorial court judge John Faulkner ruled Thursday.

But because Walker pled guilty and repaid some of the $120,000 she embezzled from as many as 150 fake policies on car, home and life insurance in the Yukon, she’ll only have to serve 15 months at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

Walker’s crimes affected many victims and “posed a grave risk to the community,” Faulkner said as he handed out Walker’s sentence.

She forged documents, and her victims were “not only defrauded of money, but placed in a very risky situation,” because they were without legitimate insurance for cars, homes and, in some cases, their very lives, he said.

Walker still owes $85,000 to a Yukon government insurance superintendent, $25,000 of which she must pay within the first18 months of her probationary period, said Faulkner.

If she does not pay within the two-year period, she will be in criminal breach of her probation, and could be returned to jail.

Walker was led from the courtroom escorted by police, without a word to anyone but her lawyer, Robert Dick.

Dick argued against jail time for his client, claiming she paid $30,000 in restitution.

But Faulkner said those funds were ill-gotten, no different than money from a bank robber caught with some of the cash he stole, who argues that the seized booty equates restitution.

Dick’s argument was not an “apt” description, said Faulkner.

However, Walker did pay $5,000 from her own purse, which may not be a significant sum considering the $120,000 she embezzled, but is significant considering her annual income, said Faulkner.

He also noted that Dick argued against jail time because Walker allegedly committed fraud to keep her family financially afloat.

But that argument loses some credibility, because Walker spent $90,000 in a 10-month period, said Faulkner. How Walker spent that money was not divulged in court.

Fraud is clearly a crime of deliberation, and Walker had a “sophisticated scheme carried out over a long period of time,” Faulkner said.

“The reward is not worth the risk.”

Walker has equity tied up in the sale of her Whitehorse house that she must split with her estranged husband.

Her half could be worth anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000, the court heard.

With files from Candice O’Grady.

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