Susan Gail Leuenberger was found guilty of theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000, and making false entry in an accounting journal by Honourable Judge Calvin Struyk in Smithers’ B.C. Provincial Court last Tuesday.
Leuenberger’s Houston-based company Pleasant Valley Accounting Services Ltd. was found to be derelict in accountant duties done for the Moricetown Band owned Kyah Industries Ltd. between 1999 and 2004.
Revenue Canada seized over $90,000 in taxes from Kyah, which initially alerted the forest products company to Leuenberger’s activities.
Leuenberger claimed the money from Kyah, which amounted to over $100,000 per year, were for services she provided.
Pleasant Valley is currently listed as a private company with four employees having annual sales totaling nearly $272,000, according to manta, a small business website.
While rendering his decision, Judge Struyk said he relied heavily on two testimonies, including Leuenberger’s own testimony during her 2006 civil trial, when she was also found guilty ordered to repay over $600,000 to Kyah.
Leuenberger has yet to repay the money.
“We’ve got absolutely nothing yet,” Lucy Gagnon, Moricetown Band Manager, said.
“We’ll see when the decision comes down, but it may not amount to much.”
A property owned by Leuenberger in Houston could be awarded to Kyah, but Gagnon said she wants to see Leuenberger receive a jail term as well.
Also instrumental in Judge Struyk’s decision was the expert testimony of Carlyle Shepherd Manager Wayne Callison, Certified General Accountant, who took over bookkeeping for Kyah in 2004.
“It seems pretty cut and dry to me,” Callison said, just before entering the courtroom last Tuesday.
Callison is also dubious of Leuenberger’s current financial state.
“She’s had many years to use or misappropriate the proceeds, where are they?” Callison said.
Also critical was Leuenberger’s admission she kept completely separate records to document her time worked and she changed permanent records, which she always wrote in pencil, after 2004.
“I have no difficulties finding Mrs. Leuenberger acted in a dishonest manner,” Judge Struyk said.
“Her explanation is simply absurd.”
Judge Struyk added that based on Callison’s testimony, he believes Leuenberger knew full well the ramifications of what she was doing and changing Kyah’s permanent records post-investigation only proved she was trying to cover her tracks.
Due to the length of time it took the criminal case to be heard a stay of proceedings, which would have ended the trial, was sought by defense lawyer Ian Lawson, but Struyk didn’t grant the stay.
The charge of theft and the charge of fraud, however, were found to be affected by the same statute and a stay was granted for the theft charge.