Updated: Woman admits to defrauding NLC fund out of $285,000 – full article

Leader staff

On July 27, 2022, in Slave Lake Provincial Court, Cindy Martin admitted defrauding Northern Lakes Community College Professional Development Fund of $285,000 and Winks Slave Lake of $1,950. The cases were linked.

“Northern Lakes College (NLC) was not defrauded, it was in fact another group that the person worked with in her role at the College,” says a Northern Lakes College spokesperson.

The Northern Lakes College spokesperson could not elaborate further.

Martin pleaded guilty to charges of fraud over $5,000, forging documents, and fraud under $5,000. The charges were laid in 2020.

The case had been scheduled for trial on four charges related to the $285,000, but last week Martin changed her plea to guilty to two of these: 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.

Martin pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud under $5,000, which was schedule for trial on August 3.

Crown Prosecutor Terrance Hudson told the 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. This money is for reimbursing staff members for professional development courses.

Martin worked for NLC for 12 years, the court heard. Shortly before the funds started to go missing she was promoted into management. The office where she worked had the professional fund cheques in a locked cupboard. Each cheque required two signatures. Three of her colleagues had signing authority.

Hudson said from December 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. They identified them as forgeries. Martin texted the other one, saying she’d made a mistake and used her signature.

The 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 the NLC fund. 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 NLC fund owners didn’t request restitution, the court heard.

The guilty plea to fraud over $5,000 applies to taking the $285,000 from NLC. The forgery plea applies to forging her colleague’s signatures.

Judge S.P. Hinkley accepted Martin’s guilty pleas. He ordered a Gladue report and presentence report. These generally take at least four months. Sentencing was put over until January 4, 2022 in Slave Lake.

Everyone is eligible for a presentence report. People with Indigenous ancestry have a right to a Gladue report.

Martin said she is Metis from Labrador. She appeared without a lawyer. She has no prior criminal record.

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