Shortage of court clerks delays sentence for Laval fraudster

Georgia Tzanetakos managed to take $746,134 by diverting the pay of 566 employees at Clair de Lune until she was caught in September 2014.

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A Laval resident who defrauded the company she worked for out of more than $745,000 by diverting the pay of 566 employees could not be sentenced at the Montreal courthouse Wednesday afternoon because of a shortage of courthouse clerks.

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Georgia Tzanetakos, 61, of Laval, showed up at the courthouse Wednesday, but learned that Quebec Court Judge Karine Giguère was unable to deliver the sentence because of a continuing problem at the Montreal courthouse.

“Let the (record) show it was due to a shortage of clerks,” Quebec Court Judge Jean-Jacques Gagné said after the case was briefly transferred to his busy courtroom. Gagné set May 26 as the next date in the case.

The shortage of clerks has been noticeable throughout the pandemic. One lawyer recently told the Montreal Gazette several clerks left their jobs at the provincial courthouse in Montreal to move to the municipal courthouse, where clerks are paid higher wages.

Tzanetakos and four other people were charged with fraud in 2020, following an investigation by the Montreal police. She pleaded guilty on Sept. 1, 2021, and the four other people charged in the same case were acquired.

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According to a joint statement of facts entered into the court record in September, Tzanetakos worked for the company Claire de Lune as her salary manager from 2008 until September 2014 when someone discovered what she was doing while she was on vacation. Her main task for her at Claire de lune was to prepare the employees’ pay.

The person who replaced Tzanetakos during her time off was asked to verify why one employee did not receive their paycheque through a direct deposit. When the replacement traced the paycheque in question, she learned it had been deposited into a different bank account than the one requested by the employee.

Tzanetakos’s replacement called the company’s comptroller and when he looked inside Tzanetakos’s office, he found a CIBC bank statement in her name on her desk. The bank statement corresponded with the account the employee’s paycheque went to and that opened the door to what turned out to be a massive fraud scheme.

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According to the joint statement of facts: “The investigation revealed that the accused stole the identity of 124 employees who were either working part-time or were not working for the company anymore. She changed the account number of the employees in the company pay system and she falsified work hours within the former employees’ files. Using this stratagem, she diverted the pay of 566 employees.”

Tzanetakos managed to divert $746,134 into 10 bank accounts. Some were in her name of her and others were in the names of close relatives of her.

According to a decision made in civil court, the fraud began in 2011 and continued until September 2014.

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