Money stolen from Sipekne’katik Band to build luxury house to be returned

Former Sipekne'katik Band Finance Director Jeffrey Hayes used $133,000 of band funds to build a luxury home at 22 Kittiwake Ridge, Halibut Bay, N.S./Photo by Stephen Brake

A Nova Scotia court has ordered former Sipekne’katik band councillor Michael P. Sack to pay back $133,000 to the band.

Former band financial manager Jeffrey Cecil Hayes originally stole the funds from Sipekne’katik band coffers and used it to partially build a luxury home near Halifax.

Justice John Murphy gave the order during Hayes’ sentencing at Nova Scotia Supreme Court on October 28. Hayes was sentenced to two years in a federal prison for stealing more than $340,000 from the band.

According to the crown, approximately $133,000 of the money Hayes stole was used to build the house at 22 Kittiwake Ridge in Halibut Bay, N.S.

During Hayes’ five-week trial in May and June, a videotape of Hayes’ statement to RCMP was played to the jury. In the videotape, Hayes explained to investigators that he borrowed money from Sack.

RCMP hired forensic auditor Greg Leeworthy to investigate whether Sipekne'katik band funds were used to build luxury home/Photo by Stephen Brake
RCMP hired forensic auditor Greg Leeworthy to investigate whether Sipekne’katik band funds were used to build luxury home/Photo by Stephen Brake

According to a forensic report submitted as evidence during his trial, Hayes received a cheque in the amount of $30,000 from Mainland Juggage in August 2009. According to the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stocks, the company is registered to Sack.

When Hayes was dismissed by the Sipekne’katik Band in January 2012, he told investigators that he signed over the deed to the house to Sack because he was unable to pay back the money he borrowed.

Greg Leeworthy, a forensic auditor hired by the RCMP, testified during the trial that he was able trace the money Hayes used to build the house came from the Sipekne’katik Band bank accounts. He prepared a 61-page forensic report for the RCMP which was entered as evidence during the trial.

Sack charged with possession of stolen property in 2012

In November 2012, RCMP charged Sack, 35, with possession of stolen property over $5,000 for holding the deed to the property and making a false statement under oath in an affidavit with the intention to mislead.

In October 2014, an agreement was reached between Sack’s lawyer and crown attorney Rick Hartlen to have Sack referred to the adult diversion program, an alternative to the traditional court process.

The program is available to individuals who commit eligible offences. However, individuals must first accept responsibility for the offences committed.

According to the crown, Sack agreed to pay $133,000 to the court instead of forfeiting the deed to the house as part of the adult diversion program. The amount Sack paid to the court was the equivalent of the amount of money Hayes stole from the Sipekne’katik Band to partially build the house.

Sack was also ordered to pay $10,000- $15,000 to a charity arranged under probation services in Shubenacadie, N.S. Once those two conditions were met in adult diversion, the crown withdrew the charges against Sack.

Nova Scotia Crown Attorney Rick Hartlen/Photo by Stephen Brake
Nova Scotia Crown Attorney Rick Hartlen/Photo by Stephen Brake

“Mr. Sack was, in fact, taking responsibility for that criminal behaviour and his willful blindness in the collusion with Mr. Hayes,” Hartlen said following court on October 28.

“It was the crown’s allegation that there was no way Mr. Sack could have come into possession of that property without knowing it was tainted by the proceeds of crime, that it was through illicit funds and he acknowledged that,” Hartlen said.

According to the crown, the money Sack paid to the court has been held in trust by the court pending the outcome of the Hayes trial. Since the trial ended with a guilty verdict against Hayes, that money held in trust was ordered by Justice Murphy to be released to the crown in order for it to be returned to the Sipekne’katik Band.

“That money will end up in the coffers of the community,” Hartlen said.

Meanwhile, the house at 22 Kittiwake Ridge, Halibut Bay is now up for sale, according to real estate websites, and On, the house is listed for sale at $459,000. On the website, the same house is listed at $499,000.

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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.