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Ahtahkakoop death considered suspicous PDF Print E-mail
Written by mbcnews   
Wednesday, 02 September 2015 17:44

The RCMP is considering a man's death on Ahtahkakoop First Nation to be suspicious.

The injured man died while paramedics tried to save him early on Wednesday morning.

EMS and STARS crews arrived just before 2 a.m. They weren't able to transport him before his death.

An autopsy on the man is scheduled for Friday in Saskatoon.

An investigation by multiple RCMP units - Shellbrook RCMP and Major Crime Northern Unit - is underway.

The RCMP is not releasing the name or age at this time, but says details will come out as they become available.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 17:46
Former Fond du Lac chief charged with fraud PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 02 September 2015 17:35

Fraud charges have been laid on a First Nation that's been plagued with political infighting.

Following an RCMP economic crime unit investigation, former Fond du Lac chief Napoleon Mercredi is charged with fraud over $5,000, theft of over $5,000, and breach of trust by a public official.

The case went before the court in Fond du Lac in late August.

Lead investigator Sergeant Hugh Gordon said this relates to complaints of misappropriation of band and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) funds, with the concerns brought forward around the same time in June of 2012.

"The nature of the complaint was, I guess, a misappropriation of both band funds and department funds over the two-year tenure of Mr. Mercredi while he was chief," Gordon said.

AANDC allots a certain quantity of money for specific programs and "had noticed a certain amount of dollars going into one of those programs that wasn't spent according to their guidelines," he said.

When asked to estimate how much money was misappropriated, Gordon said "it is in the hundreds of thousands, but as to which amount is going to ultimately be the correct amount will have to be decided by a court." He would go no further, saying the value is somewhere between $5,000 and $1 million.

That value includes money that was at risk, or "had the potential of being misappropriated" but was not necessarily money that went missing.

The investigation by Gordon's branch has concluded, and he said the value both the RCMP and the Crown prosecutor have come up with is something they are comfortable they can defend in court.

Gordon acknowledged that as chief, Mercredi did have the authority to access band accounts.

"He was a decision-maker and was expected to be that in a number of these instances. The question will just simply come down to, which transactions or which spending he was entitled to and those that he was not. Those that he had authority to use in the way that he used and those that he did not," Gordon said.

Mercredi responded to the allegations by phone, saying he felt singled out by his accusers, and that the RCMP was doing its job in response to the complaints.

He said he feels there are others who should be named in the charges.

Gordon said no one else is being considered to be charged and that the investigation is complete, adding that he thinks "the evidence on that will present itself quite clearly in court."

Mercredi says to him, theft is taking money without permission - and that never happened.

"I don't have any stressses over these charges or anything like that," he said.

There's an upcoming election on Fond du Lac, Mercredi said, and he'll be running for chief.

Nothing in the election act forbids that, he said, because he is charged and not convicted.

The case will return to court on September 24.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 17:36
Man sentenced for living ‘life of a high roller’ with stolen band money PDF Print E-mail
Written by mbcnews   
Wednesday, 02 September 2015 13:24

Dakota Dunes Casino - where Gallegos spent much of the stolen money.For over an hour, a Crown prosecutor told a Saskatoon courtroom anecdote after another about the lavish lifestyle of Hugo Gallegos on the dime of the First Nation he had worked for.

On Wednesday, the former Whitecap Dakota First Nation accountant was handed a five-year sentence today for stealing $5.8 million dollars while employed by the band.

Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter told Justice Richard Danyliuk that Gallegos spent more than $20,000 in a 10-day period.

Ritter added, Gallegos won more than $700,000 at the Dakota Dunes Casino but did not know how much he spent to win that amount of money.

Ritter also told court Gallegos was on the radar as one of the top gamblers in the city.

“You can see a lifestyle many people only dream of,” Ritter said while concluding his submission.

After the sentence was rendered, Ritter told reporters outside of court what happened when police searched Gallegos’s storage unit.

“About $200,000 worth of Prada shoes were located, I think that points to an excessive lifestyle, the life of a high roller,” said Ritter. “Going into a store and spending $700 on socks is also a little over the top but he was doing this with other people’s money.”

Before handing down his sentence, Justice Danyliuk told Gallegos that it was his lying, cheating and stealing that supported his obscene lifestyle.

As for Gallegos, he stood up trembling, apologizing to the people he hurt and let down, saying to the band members, “I got caught up in this craziness.”

“I don’t really think I was listening to him,” said Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear afterwards. “I was too busy thinking about how we go forward.”

He said since the crime, the band has replaced all of the staff from the finance department and added stricter accounting practices.

When Bear first heard of the theft it left him wondering how could this have happened.

“We were still making payroll, making all of our bank payments, nothing was amiss then all of a sudden to find out you have been robbed,” said Bear, “we were just shocked.”

Gallegos was also ordered to pay back the $5.8 million in restitution.

Earlier this summer, Whitecap filed a lawsuit against its bank and accounting firm alleging the two institutions should have prevented the fraud.

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