Jury deliberates in fraud trial of former Sipekne’katik finance director

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

After hearing testimony over a four-week period, the jury began deliberating Wednesday afternoon in the trial of the former finance director of the Sipekne’katik Band accused of misappropriating approximately $350,000 of band money.

Jeffrey Cecil Hayes, 61, is charged with theft over $5,000, two counts of fraud over $5,000 and four counts of possession of property obtained through crime. He is accused of transferring band funds without authorization into bank accounts he controlled to use for his own personal purposes.

The alleged offences are alleged to have happened while he was the Director of Finance for the Sipekne’katik Band from January 2009 until he was fired in January 2012.

The jury has heard testimony from 21 witnesses since the trial began on May 16 in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

Justice John Murphy began his instructions to the 12-member jury Tuesday afternoon and concluded Wednesday afternoon.

During his instructions to the jury, Justice Murphy summarized both the crown and the defence’s theories of the case.

The crown alleges that Hayes took advantage of his position as the Director of Finance for the Sipekne’katik Band to fraudulently take approximately $350,000 of band funds for his personal use.

According to the crown, Hayes used the band funds to purchase land for a house at 22 Kittiwake Ridge in Halibut Bay, N.S., two jeep vehicles and a 32-inch flat screen television.

Additionally, the crown accuses Hayes of falsifying invoices for MRJJ Management Inc. and Amcrest and approved cheque requisitions in relation to the payment in order to bill the band for work that was not performed.

The defence argues the crown has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt that Hayes conducted himself dishonestly or that he had criminal intent when he used band money for his own benefit.

In his instructions, Justice Murphy told the jury to determine the following elements when determining if Hayes’ guilt or innocence in both the theft and one of the fraud charges:

  • That Hayes took or converted Sipekne’katik Band funds for his own use
  • That he took or converted the band funds fraudulently and without colour of right
  • That when Hayes took or converted the band funds for his own use, he meant to deprive the band of the money
  • That Hayes took or converted money with a value greater than $5,000

For the second count of fraud by an official, Justice Murphy instructed the jury to determine whether or not Hayes was an official, that he committed fraud, that the fraud was in connection with his duties and that he intended to commit fraud.

For the four counts of possession of property obtained through crime, the judge told the jury they only needed to determine if the property was derived by crime, that Hayes knew the property was derived by crime and the value of the property.

The jury returned to the courtroom after three hours of deliberations on Wednesday to ask Justice Murphy more explanation about the “colour of right” in his instructions. The jury also asked the judge if he could provide them with a written document explaining the elements they need to consider when determining guilt or innocence.

The jury ended the day on Wednesday without reaching a verdict and were sequestered at a hotel overnight.

The jury is expected to resume deliberations Thursday morning.

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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.