There’s money missing at City Hall again – except this
time it’s not under-depositing – it’s pilfering of revenue
collections – and the ones being blamed are clerks and cashiers –
not any elected council official. The figures cited go as high as sixty thousand
dollars and tonight three City Council employees are detained at the Police
Department. They have been in custody since last night after what we are told
was a revealing meeting in the Mayor’s office yesterday evening.
The three employees were confronted with evidence which showed them
going into the data management system and adjusting entries. Our sources tell
us that the data log shows that they changed dates and figures to make it seem
that certain payments had not been made at all, or that they had been made for
less than the actual figure. At that meeting, when confronted with the evidence,
two of the employees – we are told – confessed to being in the scam
and under pressure from the Mayor returned cash then and there. That’s
when the police were called in and they were detained – which is where
they remain this evening
It is another money mismanagement scandal at a council that has already
earned a public reputation for fiscal irresponsibility. But this time, there
are no political reputations on the line – so it’s being dealt with
in a straightforward manner and the council is cooperating fully with police.
This afternoon, investigators from the Crimes Investigation Branch were seen
going into the council to have a meeting with City Administrator Kiran Vanjani
who – we are told – has compiled the evidence thus far.
Councillor Phillip Willoughby was assigned to address the media today.
He spoke first about how the fraud was perpetrated.
Phillip Willoughby, City Councillor
“What was done, one individual would backdate, back post, or maybe
even remove receipts or invoices from within the system. So at the end of the
day when you would print your balance, you would balance because the amount
of monies that was removed or withdrawn from the register would not have showed
up at the end of the day when it came to the balancing of the council’s
And according to Willoughby, the difference between what was actually
collected and what was recorded was collected by three employees.
“Are you able to say what type of employees, if not their names, where
were they posted?”
“It would be the front line people, cashiers.”
Dwayne Moody, News 5
“Sir I understand three persons have been detained by police and particularly
from the Revenues and Evaluation Department. Is that so?”
“Was around $60,000 missing, from the investigations that you guys have
done, what amount is being shown as missing?”
“I can narrowly speculate to say in that ball park figure.”
“I also understand that some money has been recovered. Is that so?”
“About how much would you say?”
“How was this recovered?”
“With cooperation from the employees.”
“The same ones that stole it?”
“Mr. Willoughby, were you involved in a meeting with these people at which
time a confession was made and a return of these funds?”
And so now, where do businesses stand, those that duly paid their taxes
got a receipt – but then the books were altered and it was not recorded
in the system or just part recorded. Willoughby wasn’t so clear on that
aspect of it.
“Yes you would be given a receipt, that is probable. It would be either
way for you to voluntarily maybe come in to say that this receipt, see if this
receipt has been printed or if this receipt has been accounted for. That’s
one. If not then we know that that receipt falls within what is being investigated.”
“Do taxpayers stand to lose being that their either under-invoiced or
their payments were under-recorded because I paid for a full year but only half
was recorded in the system or none and so then it is as if I didn’t pay.
Are those people in an injurious situation right now?”
“The legal man will have to advise the council on that. I can’t
speak specifically to that. I wouldn’t want to hold the council ransom
based on what I would say here that no or yes specifically. It has to be a decision
of the council.
Before a court of law I believe the receipts should hold up. This might
just be a wider part of the general concept or principle of under-depositing.
I can’t verify that, I can’t state that for a fact, I am just giving
you an opinion based on the findings of the reports that were generated.”
And that means that at this point they don’t know the extent
of the fraud. So far it only goes back to November, but it could pre-date that.
Police continue to detain the council employees and charges are expected later
And while the City Council is patting itself on the back for definitively
cracking down on some kind of graft – and police are getting ready to
charge - the mother of one of those detained employees and she says “not
so fast.” Michelle Cattouse visited our studios late this evening to complain
that her daughter Kera Ford is being unfairly detained because she doesn’t
even handle money at the City Council.
Michelle Cattouse, Mother of Detainee
“Yes they have them on pending investigation for $60,000 which is
missing and they are blaming it on them.”
“You believe she had nothing to do with it?”
“She had nothing to do with $60,000. Where is Zenaida Moya? Why doesn’t
Zenaida Moya come out and speak? If she knows that $60,000 is lost why doesn’t
she make a change instead of having them under investigation for 48 hours pending
“And you don’t believe your daughter is involved?”
“She did not do that. She has worked at City Council for 7 years.”
“What does your daughter do there?”
“She is an NHR….”
“She handles money?”
“No she doesn’t handle money.”
And for balance we note that sources in City Hall have told us that
Cattouse’s daughter was in the meeting with the Mayor and was one of those
persons who returned money.Channel 7