A former Squamish Nation councillor, Krisandra Jacobs, went on trial last month in a BC provincial court, being charged with defrauding the band government of close to $1 million between April 1, 2011 and May 2, 2014.
Walter Schneider, the former COO of Squamish Nation and a member who lived off-reserve his whole life, was hired in 2013, whereby he began a review of the nation’s accounts and subsequently realized an unusual number of cheques were being issued through the band manager’s emergency fund.
“...I started to see these other payments in there that no one mentioned, to Krisandra Jacobs and to Glen Newman. And that obviously raised a significant flag for me,” he testified.
Schneider brought his concerns to councillors Carla George, Deborah Baker and Julie Baker, who supported him in bringing those issues to the full Squamish Nation council. However, the reaction of the full council was “very divided,” said Schneider. Council eventually conceded to an independent investigation conducted by a third-party lawyer, Nazeer Mitha.
Over these three years, 422 cheques were made out to Jacobs of a value of nearly $1 million. Prosecutor Shelley Hulko added that a significant amount of these cheque requisitions came in after normal office hours. She credits Schneider for the discovery. “It was his investigation that led ultimately to the police investigation,” said Hulko.
Even more damning, financial records point towards Jacobs attending casinos shortly after cheques were deposited into the account of either her or her husband.
Squamish Nation employee Donalene Rapada testified that she had raised concerns about Jacobs’ cheque requests with her supervisor, adding "she was concerned that those requests weren’t following the proper process and back-up documentation wasn’t being provided."
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer John Turner, Rapada agreed that Jacobs had indicated one reason she didn’t want to provide documents for the cheque requests was concern for the confidentiality of those band members seeking help through the emergency fund.
Following the initial investigation, both Jacobs and band manager Glen Newman were fired from their jobs and were removed from their elected positions on council.