KENTVILLE – A Harbourville resident who was found in civil court to have defrauded the Greenwood Military Family Resources Centre of more than $400,000 now faces a criminal charge.
Canadian Forces National Investigation Service laid charges July 24 of fraud over $5,000 against Karen Lorraine Byers. She has not been found guilty of any criminal charges related to this matter.
According to documents filed at the Kentville Justice Centre, Byers faces one charge of defrauding the Greenwood Military Family Resource Centre of $409,964. The offence allegedly occurred between Jan. 1, 2007 and March 3, 2011.
A release from the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service says that Byers was a civilian employee at the Greenwood Military Family Resource Centre for approximately 13 years.
KingsCountyNews.ca broke the story in June 2012 that the Nova Scotia Supreme Court had ordered Byers to repay $403,340.95.
According to civil court documents, Byers admitted in March 2011 to diverting money from the centre’s accounts into her own.
The military says the investigation began after police received a complaint that money had been misappropriated from the centre. The CFNIS investigation revealed sufficient evidence to support a charge under the Criminal Code of Canada, the media release said. The Provincial Proceeds of Crime Unit and Canada Revenue Agency have both been advised.
“Fraudulent activity and misappropriation of DND funds are illegal acts and are taken seriously by the Military Police,” said Lt.-Col. Brian Frei, commanding officer of the investigation service. “No one is above the law and these offences will be investigated and dealt with according to the Criminal Code of Canada.”
Byers is scheduled to appear Sept. 29 in Kentville court.
Little in the way of funds recovered in civil matter
Tressa Haney, vice-chairwoman of the family resource centre's board of directors, wouldn’t offer much in the way of comment about the criminal charges against Byers.
“With the matter now before the criminal justice system, we do not want to comprise the investigation or charges. So we have nothing to add at this time,” said Haney.
Prior to the criminal charges being laid, there had been little recent activity with the centre’s civil charges against Byers. In early March 2014, court files indicated the local sheriff’s office had wrapped up their efforts to recover funds owed to the centre by Byers.
“We did seize some assets from a local bank in March 2012,” explained Sheriff Helen Milne, adding the recovery file was subsequently closed.
“We were provided information by the creditor and served a demand upon a local bank. Some monies were seized, then we had no further communication with the GMFRC, so the file was closed.”
While she was not able to confirm the actual amount retrieved by the sheriffs, Milne indicated at the time that it was “a minimal amount” of the original judgment order of close to $400,000.
Milne explained it is the responsibility of the creditor, in this case the resource centre, to provide leads to the sheriff’s office to facilitate the recovery of assets.
“The onus is on (the GMFRC) to provide new information to open the file again.”