Kazi Marouf, 66, repaid all the stolen money, receives conditional 2-year sentence
A former vice-president of Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro, who stole more than $425,000 from the utility and then repaid it all, will not spend any time in jail.
Kazi Marouf, who was vice-president of operations, was given a conditional sentence of two years less a day when he appeared via Zoom in a St. Catharines courtroom on Monday.
Under an agreement reached between the Crown and defence, Judge Deborah Calderwood ordered Marouf to spend one month under strict house arrest and then for the following 11 months must abide by a daily curfew.
Over the next two years, if he violates any of the other sentencing conditions imposed, Calderwood warned that he can be brought back to court and sent to jail.
“I feel very, very bad for this action. It was a momentary lapse of good judgment,” Marouf told the court.
“It is not in my character. I'm sorry to all the people I hurt, especially my wife and family, and obviously the community at large.”
The 66-year-old father of three said he is “getting help” and just wants to “live in peace with my wife.”
The Fort Erie resident pleaded guilty in September to fraud over $5,000 and assistant Crown attorney Henry Limheng told the judge Marouf's remorse, his repayment and plea were factors in recommending he not spend time in jail.
Defence lawyer Richard Corbett noted his client had no prior criminal record, had previously been active with local non-profit organizations, including the United Way, and was otherwise an “upstanding” member of the community.
The judge noted that between March 2019 and July 2020 Marouf committed a “serious breach of trust” when he stole the money from his employer.
Marouf was hired by the utility in 2017 and made “a number of important contributions to NOTL Hydro during his time here,” CEO Tim Curtis said in a victim impact statement submitted to the court.
Investigators said the scam involved a phony invoice scheme. It was discovered by another NOTL Hydro employee, who brought it to the attention of senior management.
The utility conducted an internal investigation and subsequently hired a Toronto forensic accounting firm to look into the case.
Hydro officials have emphasized that the fraud had no effect on the utility's financial status or customers' bills.
In his court statement, Curtis called for a conditional sentence for Marouf, with house arrest as “he is not a threat to society.”
Curtis described the “shock and betrayal” that he, the staff and board of directors felt when the fraud was discovered.
“The betrayal of trust of one's work associates was, for most, the bigger sin,” he wrote.
“The fact that Kazi was able to repay the fraudulently obtained amounts, while a great relief and positive first step in making amends, creates questions as to why this crime was committed in the first place,” Curtis said.
The utility is applying to have Marouf's professional engineering designation revoked, he added.