Four former employees of the Waswanipi Caisse Populaire have been charged for stealing money from entities within the community, including two grocery stores, the day care centre, and the band office.
Pauline Icebound, Josephine Happyjack-Gull, Cynthia Saganash, and Emily Gull-Happyjack were charged February 8 by Crown prosecutor Christian Leblanc with theft of $277,925.59, fraud and forgery of bank documents. The financial misdoings ran from January 2001 until July 2003. The four women are slated to appear in court on May 17.
The Prosecutor Leblanc was tight lipped when pressed for more information on the case. “I charged them and can only tell you what is public information. The rest will come out at a later date,” he said.
The bank’s manager, Claude Tremblay, didn’t say much about the case either: “I can’t comment on that file because I don’t have the information in front of me.” When told what the charges were, he said “I’ll have to verify that with the local police. Until then I cannot comment on this.”
Evelyn Dixon, the interim Manager at the Day Care confirmed that it was targeted by the women, but couldn’t say how much money was taken because she was not Manager at the time.
An anonymous source whose business was targeted in the fraud told the Nation that various businesses in the community were bilked of cash from their accounts at the Caisse Populaire.
They also said that it was only discovered six months later that $30,000 was missing after some irregularities in the books. Luckily, the company was reimbursed fully by the Caisse Populaire, albeit a year and a half later.
“I couldn’t believe it happened, we trusted these people and they betrayed us,” said the source.
Chief Robert Kitchen also confirmed that money was taken from the band council.
“We have a very good monitoring system so we were able to catch it early,” he said “There was only a small amount taken from the band, something like $20,000 or so.”
He also added that each entity in the community was fully insured and have been reimbursed by the Caisse Populaire.
Two of the four women accused had no comment on the matter.