By Tina Comeau
A Yarmouth woman will be sentenced on April 1, after being found guilty of stealing money from the Yarmouth Boys and Girls Club.
Wendi Marie Kleiner-d’Eon, 44, was convicted by a Supreme Court justice last week, following a two-day trial that had taken place earlier in the month. She was a bookkeeper at the club when the money went missing.
The charge before the court was theft over $5,000, with the offence said to have occurred in 2009 and 2010. The specific amount of money stolen was not listed as part of the charge.
“The judge didn’t make a specific finding on the amount because the evidence came out where the numbers were in a range, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving out a precise number because the judge didn’t make a precise finding on the amount,” said Crown attorney Josie McKinney.
However Ann Jones, the chair of the Yarmouth Boys and Girls Club, says the amount of stolen money was in the range of $53,000. Jones says the theft had a very large impact on the club at the time, and continues to in the present.
“We almost lost the club. We had to remortgage, we almost lost our summer programming, which is really the boys and girls club’s program that parents depend on,” says Jones. “For staff, we reduced right down to bare minimum.
“And the other problem was we couldn’t figure it out. We couldn’t figure out why, if we budgeted and we looked at what every child brought in, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong,” adds Jones, who says the money that went missing was fundraising money and money from day care fees. At the time, she says, they were told the money was in different accounts. She says it was just a mystery.
“We could never figure out why we were always in the hole,” says Jones.
And for an organization that also depends on grants, it made it more challenging to secure funding when they couldn’t come up with clean audits that said to funding organizations, ‘trust us.’
Jones says when the money raised through a Monte Carlo fundraiser, which was in the range of $12,000 to $14,000, went missing; it alerted the club that something was amiss. But Jones says they trusted their employee, and so they couldn’t figure out why the money couldn’t be accounted for. Jones says eventually it was uncovered that there had never been any cash amounts listed on any deposit slips.
“So for 13 months no cash was ever deposited in our accounts,” says Jones. “It was all there in the receipt books, but it was never actually deposited. It was very simple when you really got down to it and you think why didn’t you see that earlier? But it wasn’t simple when you trust somebody.”
Asked what the Crown’s case has been at trial, McKinney commented on the court’s ruling which was an oral decision handed down on Jan. 28.
“In the end the judge found that a certain amount of money went missing and it was all cash. Circumstantially the only reasonable conclusion that could be arrived at, based on the evidence, was that it was Wendi Kleiner that took it,” says McKinney. “She was the person solely responsible for depositing it…The judge found that circumstantially we had proven it had to be her.”
Jones says the boys and girls club board dislikes the fact that they have to speak publically about what occurred, given that their employee had been seen as very credible and trustworthy prior to the theft being uncovered.
But Jones says they are speaking out about the impact this theft had on the Yarmouth Boys and Girls Club because they will have to turn to the community for fundraising as they continue to recover from effects of the theft. She says they’re hoping to be able to recover some of the money through a court ruling.
“What really upsets you is I know how hard the parents worked for that money. Coming up with daycare money is really difficult for families,” says Jones, who says just as it was difficult to deal with the loss of the money, the loss of trust was also difficult to cope with.
“It’s had a long-standing impact for us,” she says.