Former chief says he never led finance director to believe chief had more power than council

Sipekne'katik Band Councillor Jerry F. Sack testified June 6, 2016 in the fraud trial of Jeff Hayes/Photo by Stephen Brake

The former chief of the Sipekne’katik Band said he never led the band’s former finance director to believe he had more authority than band council to approve financial matters.

Jerry F. Sack, 54, took the stand for a second day in the jury trial of the band’s former finance director, Jeffrey Cecil Hayes on Monday.

Hayes, 61, is charged with fraud, theft, breach of trust and four counts of possession of stolen property. The offences are alleged to have occurred while Hayes was the Director of Finance for Sipekne’katik from January 2009 until January 2012.

Sack served as a Sipekne’katik band councillor from 1988 until he was elected chief in 2007. During the band election in 2012, Sack didn’t run for chief but was elected back into band council.

While under cross-examination, Sack confirmed he knew that a dormant band-owned bank account was being reactivated and renamed “Sports.” He also confirmed that he knew a company called MRJJ was being formed to develop the Wallace Hills property in Hammonds Plains, N.S.

According to the statement of agreed fact that was admitted at the beginning of the trial, Hayes had control of both the sports account and the MRJJ bank account. According to the statement, more than $900,000 of band funds was transferred to the sports account between 2009-2011 and more than $200,000 of band funds was transferred from the sports account to the MRJJ account.

Sack did not seek band council approval for transfer of band funds

Defence lawyer Luke Craggs asked Sack questions about $15,000 of band funds Sack received while serving as chief to pay off a credit card and $6,000 of band funds paid to Home Hardware for work done at his house in Indian Brook First Nation, N.S.

“As these things are going on, the creation of MRJJ, borrowing money for your debt or borrowing money for your credit card or reactivating a dormant bank account, at any time did you say to Jeff Hayes, these are the sorts of things we need to take before band council?” Craggs asked.

“No,” Sack replied.

“I’m going to suggest to you that you led Jeff Hayes to believe that you had more power as chief than you actually did by not taking things before band council that should have been brought before band council,” Craggs said to Sack in court.

“I’m going to suggest that you told him, ‘I’m the chief. I can do this’ or things along those lines,” Craggs said.

“No,” Sack said.

Sack also confirmed under cross examination that he did not seek band council’s approval before signing handwritten cheques with Hayes from the sports and MRJJ accounts.

“As the chief, as the guy who has been there longer than Jeff Hayes, did you ever say to him, ‘This isn’t the right way of doing this. These things need to go before band council.’ Did you ever tell him that?” Craggs asked.

“No, I didn’t,” Sack replied.

Craggs asked Sack about his limited ability to read and understand documents. While under cross-examination, Sack confirmed that he was able to read the cheques he signed as well as the three employment contracts for Hayes that he signed.

“Somewhat, yeah,” Sack testified. “Not really, really good, I can’t.”

“Are you just pretending you can’t read just to make it look like you didn’t know what was going on?” Craggs asked.

“I wish I could say yes but I can’t,” Sack said.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

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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.