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Sentencing submissions begin for Calgary accountant accused of fraud, theft

Undated image of Jeff Borschowa, the Alberta accountant accused of fraudulently taking $500K in executor fees from the estate of a Calgary woman. (Zoom) Undated image of Jeff Borschowa, the Alberta accountant accused of fraudulently taking $500K in executor fees from the estate of a Calgary woman. (Zoom)

The much-delayed sentencing of a man accused of fraud and theft in the handling of an estate will have to wait at least a little bit longer.

Sentencing submissions for Jeff Borschowa, who pleaded guilty in April 2022, began on Monday at the Calgary Court Centre.

During a defence submission partially built around delays getting to sentencing, time for the day ran out and the matter was interrupted and adjourned to Wednesday to find a day to pick it up again.

Before that, Crown prosecutor Tony Bell said he is seeking a couple of years jail time.

Defence lawyer Robyn High wants a conditional discharge.

She said if that can't happen, a suspended sentence might be appropriate, and if that can't happen, a conditional sentence might be appropriate, and failing all of that, a minimal amount of jail time.

Colleen Monier was 51 years old when she died of terminal brain cancer in 2011 and left her estate to be dealt with by a family friend in Borschowa.

Monier's estate was worth $700,000 after it was initially valued at $1.2 million.

Her family says they only received a portion as Borschowa allegedly lined his pockets with more than $500,000 over six years.

Borschowa was charged with fraud and theft over $5,000 in 2021 after Calgary police launched an investigation into his activities when Monier's family became suspicious of the executor and accounting fees he collected from her estate over the years.

Sentencing has been delayed on several occasions in the time since Borschowa's guilty plea, though the defence said he’s been prepared to proceed.

Michael Palmer, Monier's brother, expressed disappointment at the further delay but also said the sentencing submissions beginning at all made it seem as if an end was in sight.

"I just want to wrap it up and move on but every step of the way, there's just one delay after another," Palmer said.

"Definitely, it does (feel closer to the end)."

What he heard didn’t change his mind on Borschowa.

The defence submitted Borschowa's long-standing mental-health issues, made worse by physical ailments, contributed to his mishandling of the estate.

The defence said it was reckless behaviour due to the increased stress of handling a complex estate, not a sophisticated scheme to bilk anyone.

The defence cited obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety, among other mental-health issues.

And the defence noted Borschowa has suffered from post-concussion syndrome.

"He would find himself stuck in a loop. ... This occurred many times," the defence said.

"His ailments were active and persistant (at the time)."

The Crown said two years jail time is within the appropriate range and conditional sentences in similar matters have occurred only under exceptional circumstances.

The Crown offered several possible aggravating factors for the court to consider.

"The first is the abuse of a position of trust," the Crown said.

"The length of time over which this occurred.

"The Crown would also suggest there was an element of concealment.

"The accused's professional designation. ... He was a chartered accountant (at the time.)"

The Crown did note Borschowa's guilty plea is "a significant mitigating factor" to also be considered in sentencing.

With files by Tyson Fedor Top Stories

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