Desmond Devnich, former constituency assistant to Chilliwack MLA John Martin, pleaded guilty to two counts of breach of trust in provincial court on Oct. 6, 2020 for stealing thousands of dollars from the constituency office. He was scheduled to be sentenced on March 31, 2021. (LinkedIn)

Desmond Devnich, former constituency assistant to Chilliwack MLA John Martin, pleaded guilty to two counts of breach of trust in provincial court on Oct. 6, 2020 for stealing thousands of dollars from the constituency office. He was scheduled to be sentenced on March 31, 2021. (LinkedIn)

UPDATE: Former Chilliwack constituency assistant who stole more than $113,000 sentenced

Desmond Devnich, 30, handed a two-year conditional sentence and ordered to repay all stolen money

Former Chilliwack MLA John Martin’s constituency assistant Desmond Devnich stole more than $100,000 from Martin’s office “trying to fit in where I couldn’t.”

That was part of the opening statements by Crown counsel at Devnich’s sentencing hearing Wednesday (March 31) morning in provincial court in Chilliwack.

Devnich pleaded guilty to two counts of breach of trust by a public officer on Oct. 6, 2020.

Between July 2013, when Devnich was hired by Martin as his constituency assistant (CA), and February 2017, Devnich e-transferred more than $100,000 to himself and spent more than $12,000 on the constituency office credit card for personal purposes.

In total, Devnich stole $113,964.22 from the constituency office over three years and eight months. The money in constituency office bank accounts does not come from the MLA or the party, but comes from public funds.

The 30-year-old Devnich wore a black suit, black shoes, and black face mask as he listened to the proceedings in courtroom 203 on Wednesday.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack MLA John Martin’s constituency assistant fired after admitting to misappropriating money

• READ MORE: Chilliwack MLA’s former constituency assistant charged with fraud, breach of trust

The court also heard that the young man had no history of such behaviour, and certainly no criminal record.

“He’s got no background of this kind of conduct at all.”

Crown also read from a transcript of an interview with an RCMP officer at his lawyer’s office where Devnich said he treated the transfers of funds as loans, and that he wanted to pay back the money to pay for a lifestyle. But at one point “one lie was covering another lie and it got more complicated.”

“I was trying to maintain a lifestyle that I thought was appropriate to the job,” Devnich said in his statement. “It was a very social lifestyle in that I attended a lot of community events…. I was living beyond my means. Most definitely I very wrongfully took money by electronic transfer from constituency bank accounts to supplement my existence.”

Devnich’s lawyer Martin Finch painted a picture of a young man from humble circumstances who was doing his best to fit into social circles and political spheres where he was unaccustomed.

“There is an expression, a phrase: He got too far ahead of his skis,” Finch said. “Going too far too fast. That is indeed what I say happened here. He was a young man, he was 22 and 26 [when the offences took place] and he had limited experience and was much more full of enthusiasm than he was of ability when he took on the work for Mr. Martin.”

Finch said Devnich was using money to purchase clothing, furniture, services, restaurant meals because “he believed the need to present himself in a fashion that was consistent to those levels of sophistication.”

He wanted to be “the man about town.”

Devnich’s e-transfers and fraudulent credit card use came to an end when, in June 2016, the government finally began financial oversight into constituency office accounts. Required to reconcile accounts monthly, Devnich could not and by January he was in the crosshairs of the top financial agent for the provincial government.

By February, he confessed to all of it in Finch’s office when interviewed by police.

Devnich was also charged with overlapping counts of fraud over $5,000, charges that were dropped after he entered the guilty pleas.

Under section 122 of the criminal code, breach of trust by a public officer is an indictable offence a conviction for which comes with a term of imprisonment up to five years.

Finch told the court he is asking for the judge to hand down a conditional sentence of two years less a day with certain conditions, including a curfew with exceptions to attend employment, university classes, church, medical appointments, groceries and a period of time outside each day.

He is also asking the judge to order counselling, 240 hours of community service, and restitution of the full amount, $113,964.22, followed by another three years of probation in order to finish the community service.

Crown counsel indicated it was not opposed to a conditional sentence.

The sentencing hearing, which included an extensive agreed statement of facts, was held Wednesday and the presiding judge agreed with submissions and sentenced Devnich accordingly.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sports broadcaster and 30-year high school football coach Farhan Lalji. (Image via farhanlalji.com)
Farhan Lalji chats about the new B.C. high school sports governance proposal

Lalji, a 30-year high school football coach, thinks the new proposal will be bad for student athletes

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

A simulation lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital has been helping healthcare professionals train during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Memorial Hospital’s simulation lab trains professionals during COVID-19 pandemic

Surrey Hospitals Foundation contributing $100K toward new technologies

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Dr. Bonnie Henry says Surrey immunization targeted at neighbourhoods most at risk

‘What we’ve been looking at is the case rates by neighbourhood,’ provincial health officer says

A horse and driver cruise around the track at Fraser Downs in Cloverdale Sept. 14, 2020 amid smoke from U.S. forest fires. Harness Racing B.C. announced it’s halting the spring season two weeks early because of a lack of money and says racing won’t continue in September without and influx of cash. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Harness racing suspended at Fraser Downs

Spring season ends early, 135 workers out of jobs

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Most Read