The man who was charged with possession of a luxury home built with stolen Sipekne’katik Band funds is now the band’s chief.
Former band councillor Mike Sack, 35, received 510 votes in the band’s November 2 election, beating out incumbent chief Rufus Copage who received 484 votes.
Copage, who was first elected in 2012, served as chief for two consecutive terms.
“Well, I feel bad that I lost the election,” Copage said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “But losing by 26 votes, that’s not too bad,” he said.
Copage said he is considering asking for a recount since the votes he received were just slightly less than Sack’s. He said he is also concerned that some band members who live off-reserve did not receive a mail-in ballot.
Sack did not respond to Kukukwes.com’s request for an interview on Thursday.
A total of 1008 ballots were cast for chief and council. Ten of those ballots were rejected.
Fifty people ran for a position on band council. Nine of the ten current councillors who were seeking re-election were voted back into band council. They include:
- Mary Ellen Sylliboy: 618 votes
- Glen Knockwood: 530 votes
- Keith Julian: 472 votes
- Tim Nevin: 459 votes
- Thomas J. Howe: 437 votes
- Doreen Knockwood: 420 votes
- Colleen Knockwood: 367 votes
- Alex McDonald: 344 votes
- Earl Sack: 333 votes
Three news councillors were elected into council. They include:
- Gerry Augustine: 414 votes
- Derrick Nevin: 393 votes
- Virginia Peter-Paul: 320
Cheryl Maloney, who received 309 votes, was defeated. Michelle Glasgow and Jerry Sack did not re-offer to run for their seats on council in the November 2 election.
Judge ordered Sack to pay $133,000 of stolen money to Sipekne’katik
On October 28, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice ordered $133,000 that Sack paid to the court as part of his adult diversion terms be given back to the Sipekne’katik Band.
The order was one of the matters dealt with during the sentencing hearing of Jeffrey Cecil Hayes, the former finance director for the Sipekne’katik Band. The 62-year-old man was sentenced to two years in a federal prison for stealing more than $340,000 from band coffers between 2009-2010. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $139,000 within six years or serve an additional two years in prison.
Sack, who was a Sipekne’katik Band councillor at the time, was charged in November 2012 with possession of stolen property for holding a deed to a luxury home at 22 Kittiwake Ridge in Halibut Bay, N.S. He was also charged with making a false statement under oath for an affidavit with the intent to mislead.
During Hayes jury trial in May and June, a forensic auditor testified that Hayes used $133,000 of Sipekne’katik Band funds to build the house in Halibut Bay.
In a videotaped interview that was played to the jury, Hayes explained to investigators that he signed over the deed to the house to Sack shortly after he was fired from his job with the band because he was unable to repay a loan he received from Sack.
In October 2014, Sack’s case was referred to the adult diversion program, a post charge alternative to court proceedings.
The program is available to people over 18 who commit minor crimes. It requires that the individual charged take responsibility for the crime.
The charges against Sack were withdrawn once he agreed to pay $133,000 to the court instead of giving up the deed to the house and that he make a donation of $10-15,000 to a charity arranged by probation services.
The new chief and council’s two-year term begins immediately. A ceremonial swearing-in ceremony is expected to take place in Indian Brook First Nation later in November.
The Sipekne’katik Band is the second largest Mi’kmaw band in Nova Scotia with approximately 2,500 registered band members. Its communities include Indian Brook First Nation, Wallace Hills, New Ross and Pennel.