©Belle Hatfield photo
By Tina Comeau
The former CEO of the defunct South West Shore Development Authority (SWSDA) has entered a guilty plea to a charge involving forged documents and will be sentenced on Wednesday, Oct. 29.
The lawyer representing Frank Anderson, 64, entered the plea on his client’s behalf in provincial court on Wednesday, Aug. 27, on what was to have been the start of a preliminary inquiry.
Anderson was present in court.
The charge Anderson has pleaded guilty to was count 8 of 11 charges that have been before the court. There has been some consolidation of charges, the majority of which contained allegations of submitting forged documents in the form of applicant payment forms to ACOA during different periods in 2009 and 2010.
The charge Anderson will be sentenced on reads: ‘Between the 16th day of August 2009 and the 24th day of April 2010, at or near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, did knowingly cause the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to act upon a forged document to wit: an Applicants Request for Payment Form submitted to (ACOA) as if it were genuine, contrary to Section 368(1)(B) of the Criminal Code.’
The charge does not list any monetary amount.
“Because we changed the between dates it incorporates all of the section 368 charges and any remaining counts will be dealt with at sentencing,” explained Crown Attorney Jim Clarke.
Remaining counts before the court include an allegation of uttering a forged document and one of fraud involving the province and it’s Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism.
When SWSDA was shut down in June 2010, many suppliers and contractors were left with unpaid bills. Together it totaled around $2.3 million owed to creditors.
Simply put, things were a mess.
A forensic audit ordered by the province and conducted by the firm Ernst and Young that was released in August 2012 pointed to cheques made out to suppliers that were never forwarded, ineffective controls over expenses and insufficient financial and project information to enable effective oversight in the long term and on a day-to-day basis.
In September 2012 the RCMP Federal Operations Section commenced an investigation into the former development authority. The investigation included an examination of expense claims and supplier invoices, among other things.
The RCMP announced in October 2013 that it had laid charged against Ronald Francis (Frank) Anderson of Lake George, Yarmouth County.
In the months that followed there were several adjournments of court proceedings as the defence needed more time to sift through the complex matter.
In March Anderson elected to stand trial before a Supreme Court justice.
But on what would have been the first day of the preliminary inquiry Anderson’s lawyer – he is represented by Donald Pressé of Bedford – changed the election back to provincial court and entered the guilty plea to count 8.
And so rather than a lengthy court proceeding that was set to drag out for days, the court session lasted only about 10 minutes.
“(The preliminary) was set for originally three days and expanded to five, so there is a considerable saving of court time,” Clarke said following the morning court session. He said the defence had made its intention concerning the plea known in advance and witnesses for the preliminary inquiry had been called off late Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 26.
The sentencing hearing will be a lengthy one.
“It will probably be the whole afternoon,” Clarke said.
A pre-sentence report is being prepared for the sentencing hearing.