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Sentenced for thefts of poppy boxes in Abbotsford

This photo of Lisa Marie Goddard was obtained from video surveillance footage at one of the businesses where she stole a poppy donation box.  - Submitted photo
This photo of Lisa Marie Goddard was obtained from video surveillance footage at one of the businesses where she stole a poppy donation box.
— image credit: Submitted photo

The woman arrested for stealing funds from poppy donation boxes in Abbotsford last November pleaded guilty in court this morning (Wednesday), but did not receive any more jail time in addition to the six-month sentence she is currently serving.

Lisa Marie Goddard, 30, of Mission pleaded guilty in Abbotsford provincial court to two of the five counts of theft with which she was charged on May 21. The three other charges were stayed.

Prior to those charges being laid, she was sentenced on May 15 to six months in jail for an identical theft at a private liquor store in Mission, as well for using an identity document without lawful excuse.

At this week's hearing, Judge Peder Gulbransen gave Goddard a four-month concurrent sentence for each of the Abbotsford theft charges, meaning her time will be lumped in with her current sentence. This will be followed by one year of probation.

The Abbotsford thefts to which Goddard pleaded guilty took place on Nov. 10, 2013.

Members of the Abbotsford branch of the Royal Canadian Legion had previously placed boxes filled with Remembrance Day poppies at businesses around the community, as they do every year.

The public is invited to leave a donation in exchange for any poppies they take.

On Nov. 12, 2013, legion volunteers who were picking up the collection boxes at some of the locations were told that a woman had already done the task two days before.

An employee at one of these locations, a gas station on McCallum Road, notified police when informed that the woman was not associated with the legion.

Crown counsel said an "extensive investigation" resulted, and Goddard was identified mainly through video surveillance footage.

Defence lawyer Kristy Neurauter said Goddard committed the crimes when she was at a low point in her life.

Goddard had relapsed on drugs last summer after her close friend died, and she was suffering from depression, Neurauter said.

She said Goddard became involved in a bad relationship with a man who was also hooked on drugs and he came up with the idea of stealing the poppy boxes for drug money.

He drove the car while Goddard posed as a person picking up the funds on behalf of the legion, Neurauter said.

She said her client, the single mother of a two-year-old son, is remorseful for her actions, and has been taking several programs while in prison to address her mental-health, parenting and addiction issues, in addition to seeing a counsellor and a psychiatrist.

Neurauter said Goddard plans to continue with these programs upon her release from prison.

"She tells me she's extremely embarrassed and ashamed of her actions," Neurauter said.

Goddard also plans to write a letter of apology to the Abbotsford legion.

At the time of the thefts, legion representatives estimated the stolen funds to be up to $3,000. The funds raised in Abbotsford stay in the community.

Money raised from the poppy campaign goes into a fund to support veterans with costs such as hearing aids and eyeglasses. It also provide bursaries for their family members and helps support local army and air cadets.

Geoff Hosking, president of the Abbotsford legion, said, after the thefts, the organization reviewed its procedures for the pickup of the poppy boxes.

He said volunteers will now carry special identification that they will have to display when picking up the funds.

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