Fraud trial of former Sipekne’katik Finance Director begins

Jeffrey Hayes, 61, is on trial for fraud, theft and possession of stolen property/Photo by Stephen Brake

The jury trial of the former finance director for the Sipekne’katik Band in Nova Scotia got underway in Halifax on Tuesday.

Jeffrey Cecil Hayes, 61, is charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust for using band money for personal purposes while he was the Director of Finance for the band. The offences are alleged to have happened between July 22 and December 31, 2010.

Hayes is also charged with four counts of possession of property obtained through crime . The items include a house at 22 Kittiwake Ridge in Halibut Bay, a 2009 Jeep Liberty, a 2009 Jeep Patriot and a 32-inch Samsung television.

Hayes served as the Director of Finance for the Sipekne’katik Band from January 2009 until he was fired by the chief and council in January 2012.

If found guilty, Hayes could face up to 14 years in prison.

Prior to jury selection on Monday, Hayes entered not guilty pleas to the seven charges. Seven men and six women were selected to serve on the jury trial. The trial is expected to held over a four week period.

In his opening remarks to the jury, prosecutor Rick Hartlen said the crown intends to prove that Hayes used his position as the Director of Finance for the Sipekne’katik Band “to steal and defraud the band.”

“He used the money for purchases of a house and land at 22 Kittiwake Ridge, the purchase of two vehicles and the purchase of a 32-inch TV,” Hartlen said during his opening statements.

“The money directly came from the theft of the band,” Hartlen said.

The crown intends to call 35 witnesses to testify in the fraud trial. They include current and past band chiefs, band councillors, band employees and expert professionals.

Three accounts controlled by Hayes to transfer band funds

Following opening remarks, Hartlen read an 11-page agreed statement of facts between the crown and defence attorneys in court. In it, he outlined how Hayes had control of three bank accounts with RBC which were used to transfer funds through either handwritten cheques, online money transfers or automatic banking machines.

Those bank accounts included an inactive Shubenacadie Band Council account that was renamed “Sports” in November 2009 and a bank account named “MRJJ Management Inc.” that was opened in March 2010.

A third bank account was named “Amcrest Management, Inc.” which was the name of Hayes’ consulting company.

According to the statement of facts, more than $900,000 of Sipekne’katik Band funds were transferred to the “Sports” account beginning in November 2009. Approximately $360,000 in 13 handwritten cheques and one online bank transfer were issued from this account.

Five cheques were issued to Amcrest, two cheques were issued to MRJJ, two cheques were issued to Hayes, two cheques were issued to Tammy Peter-Paul and one cheque was written each to Home Hardware and the Shubenacadie Band Council. All of the cheques were signed by Hayes and then chief Jerry F. Sack.

The one online bank transaction from this account was sent to MRJJ Management Inc.

Hayes also opened the bank account MRJJ in March 2010, listed himself as the sole signatory and used his home address in Halifax for that account. More than $560,000 in Sipekne’katik Band funds were transferred to this account between March 16 and December 31, 2010.

The transactions made from this account included a cheque for $69,000 to Burchell MacDougall law firm in Truro, N.S. as partial payment for a personal land purchase for Hayes at 22 Kittiwake Ridge in Halibut Bay, N.S.

A payment of $1,099 was made from the MRJJ account to Maritime Travel via Interac for airfare for Hayes and his spouse to Boston, Mass. for a personal vacation.

Three cheques totalling $23,000 were made payable to cash and were cashed by Hayes. Another $77,000 were transferred from MRJJ bank account to the  Amcrest account in online banking transfers and a cheque for $25,000 with the remark “consulting fees.”

Approximately $193,000 was taken out of the MRJJ bank account.

The final bank account controlled by Hayes was the one set up for his consulting company Amcrest. According to the agreed statement of facts, approximately $277,000 of Sipekne’katik Band funds was transferred to Amcrest between July 2009 and December 2010.

Some of the transactions from this bank account included payments for:

  • Tuition for his son
  • Tuition for his daughter
  • Design work for house at 22 Kittiwake Ridge
  • Partial payment for personal land purchase at 22 Kittiwake Ridge
  • Site preparation and septic installation at 22 Kittiwake Ridge
  • Purchase of a 2009 Jeep Patriot
  • Purchase of a 2009 Jeep Liberty
  • Purchase of 32-inch LCD TV
  • Saint Mary’s University fundraiser
  • Sky Suite rental to watch Saint Mary’s University football games

The trial resumes Wednesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

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About Maureen Googoo 270 Articles
Maureen Googoo is an award-winning journalist from Indian Brook First Nation (Sipekne'katik) in Nova Scotia. She has worked in news more than 30 years for media outlets such as CBC Radio, the Chronicle-Herald and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Maureen has an arts degree in political science from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, a journalism degree from Ryerson University in Toronto and a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.