Toronto Sun

Thursday, May 2, 2002

Welfare cheater a victim: Lawyer

By SAM PAZZANO, COURTS BUREAU
Toronto Sun

Lawyers for an unrepentant single mom who cheated welfare of $15,000 to send her daughter to European ballet schools argued yesterday that her rights were violated when she was convicted of welfare fraud last year.

Lawyer Clayton Ruby said Morel D'Amour, 55, is appealing her welfare fraud conviction because of Charter violations to her privacy after welfare officials used government information against her.

Ruby also told a three-member panel of Ontario's Court of Appeal that her sentence -- 90 days in jail to be served on weekends -- was too harsh for a first offender.

The court reserved judgment indefinitely.

"She scrimped and saved every penny and she gave it to her daughter so that she wouldn't be a victim of this cycle of welfare dependence from generation to generation," Ruby told reporters.

"And it worked. Her daughter has a full-time job with a European dance company. She couldn't have done that otherwise. I hope the court will see this is not what welfare cheats do."

Ruby said D'Amour's rights were violated when welfare information was used against her at trial.

The Crown argued that D'Amour voluntarily relinquished her privacy to obtain benefits.

"The protection of the poor is ... undermined by those who engage in welfare fraud," said Crown attorney Renee Pomerance.

Copyright © 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc.