PHRD fraud investigation ongoing
File still with Commercial Crimes Unit, RCMP say
The investigation into fraud allegations at the Pembina Hills school division headquarters is still incomplete more than a year after it started.
Barrhead RCMP Sgt. Bob Dodds said the file remains in the hands of the Commercial Crimes Unit in Edmonton, and he is unable to forecast when the investigation will be completed.
“I know that they’ve been active in it, but I don’t have a tentative date for the completion of the investigation yet,” he said.
The fact the investigation is still ongoing remains surprising after Dodds told the Barrhead Leader in August 2011, that the file had been turned over to the Crown prosecutor’s office to determine if charges would be laid.
In December, Chief Crown Prosecutor Jeff Morrison refuted that claim and said the office had received no report. He added that it is up to the RCMP to determine whether to lay charges in any given investigation, although the Crown prosecutor’s office can advise police if requested.
“The decision to lay charges or not lay charges rests solely with the RCMP,” he said at the time.
Dodds would not comment on why the story changed, except to say he had been “misinformed” in August.
He said last week the fact the investigation is still ongoing is a bit concerning.
“It’s taken a lot longer than what I had hoped it would, but it’s in the right hands,” he said.
Barrhead RCMP initiated the investigation, which relates to an expense account, into an unnamed employee of the division.
The story of a problem at the division’s head office came to light in October 2010 when the Barrhead Leader learned former Supt. Richard Harvey had left his post with the division Oct. 25, two months earlier than his scheduled retirement date.
Division officials issued a one-line media release stating that as of Oct. 25, Harvey was no longer an employee of the division, and declined to elaborate further.
Deputy Supt. Colleen Symyrozum-Watt would not comment on the fraud investigation except to say that about 750 Pembina Hills employees have expense accounts.
Dodds has said previously that as is the case with any active investigation, names would be released only if and when charges are laid.
With files from Doug Neuman.
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