04/09/2014 14:47 EDT | Updated 06/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Prison upheld for woman who bilked elderly vet of $179K

Saskatchewan's highest court has upheld a three-year prison sentence for a care home operator who defrauded an elderly, severely disabled veteran of $179,000.

Deborah Leigh Parkes of Saskatoon was appealing both her 2012 fraud sentence and the restitution order.

Court heard Veterans Affairs paid Parkes each month to care for Michael Sieber — a total of $112,000 over six years.

However, she also took $112,000 from Sieber through personal cheques as well as $67,439 worth of Sieber's OAS, CPP and government assistance payments. 

Sieber, who is deceased, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War and, at the end of the war, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and discharged from service.  

Veterans Affairs paid him a pension and accepted responsibility for his living expenses.

He spent many years after the war living in psychiatric institutions in Vancouver and North Battleford. He was treated with electro-convulsive therapy and diabetic-induced comas.  

He also spent 25 years working for Cosmopolitan Industries, a sheltered workshop.

As he got older, his physical condition deteriorated. He had arthritis, had a hip replaced and used a walker to get around. He had been living in the Saskatoon care home since 1997.

In arguing her appeal, Parkes said some of the money she took from Sieber was for legitimate purposes having to do with his care, including things like haircuts and foot care.

However, the appeal court said in its April 2 decision, her arguments weren't supported by the facts. 

It dismissed her bid to have her restitution set aside and the sentence reduced.

The decision by a three-judge appeal court panel was made public this week on the Canlii online legal database.