Woman steals from NLC fund

A former Northern Lakes College employee has pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud involving more than $285,000.
Cindy Martin pleaded guilty in Slave Lake provincial court July 27 to fraud over $5,000, forging documents, and fraud under $5,000. She admitted to defrauding the Northern Lakes College professional fund of $285,000 and Winks Slave Lake of $1,950. The cases were linked.
The case was scheduled for trial on four charges related to the $285,000, but last week Martin changed her plea to guilty on fraud over $5,000 and forging documents. The Crown prosecutor withdrew charges of identity fraud with the intent to gain advantage for herself, and using forged documents.
The Crown also brought forward a third charge of fraud under $5,000 at Winks, which was set for trial Aug. 3 but Martin pleaded guilty.
Crown Prosecutor Terrence Hudson told court that on June 6, 2020, the college’s lawyers informed the Slave Lake RCMP that $285,000 had been taken fraudulently from the NLC professional fund. The money is for reimbursing staff members for professional development courses.
Martin worked for NLC for 12 years, court heard. Shortly before the funds started to go missing, she was promoted into a management position. The office where she worked contained the
the professional fund cheques in a locked cupboard. Each cheque required two signatures. Three of her colleagues had signing authority.
Hudson told court from Dec. 11, 2018 to June 2020, Martin wrote cheques to herself valued between $500 and $5,000. On each cheque, she forged the signature of two of her three colleagues with signing authority. Police showed the cheques to two of these people, who identified them as forgeries. Martin texted the other one, saying she’d made a mistake and used her signature.
RCMP and the Crown’s office also tracked the money from the NLC bank to Martin’s banking account. The Crown entered a table into evidence comparing the bank records.
When the fraud was uncovered, the professional fund bank account was frozen. However, Martin’s criminal activity didn’t end there. On July 7, 2020, the Crown said, Martin went into Winks Slave Lake. The owner recognized her as a returning customer, so cashed a cheque made out to her for $1,950 from NLC. However, since the account was frozen [due to the fraud], Winks was out the money.
Winks Slave Lake has requested restitution of $1,950.
The college has not requested restitution, court heard. The Crown said it was because NLC believed Martin wouldn’t be in a position to pay back that much money.
The guilty plea to fraud over $5,000 applies to taking the $285,000 from the NLC fund. The forgery plea applies to forging her colleague’s signatures.
Judge S.P. Hinkley accepted Martin’s guilty pleas and ordered a Gladue report and presentence report, which generally take at least four months. Sentencing was put over until Jan. 4, 2023 in Slave Lake.
Convicted people are eligible for a presentence report. People with Indigenous ancestry have a right to a Gladue report.
Martin told court she is Metis from Labrador. She appeared without a lawyer and had no prior criminal record.

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