Former Attawapiskat co-manager charged with theft, fraud
The former co-manager of Attawapiskat First Nation’s finances has been formally charged with theft and fraud.
Clayton Kennedy, 62, was charged on March 26 with one count of fraud over $5,000 and one count of theft over $5,000, according to Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS).
The charges were laid as a result of an investigation launched by NAPS after a complaint was filed by the First Nation about fraud being committed.
Attawapiskat band manager Wayne Turner said the charges stem from an incident in August 2012. He said there are no other allegations prior to then. The First Nation made a formal presentation to NAPS in April 2013 about the incident, which led to the investigation. Turner would not offer details of the incident.
Kennedy was co-manager of Attawapiskat’s finances from July 2010 until the end of the summer of 2012. He also served in other “high priority” positions with First Nation prior to that, according to Turner.
He came under scrutiny following the community’s housing crisis during the winter of 2011-2012 after questions were raised about the First Nation’s finances.
He returned to the spotlight again in January 2013 after a federal audit of Attawapiskat finances was released to media. The audit revealed that an average of 81 per cent of transaction files did not have adequate supporting documents and more than 60 per cent had no documentation of the reason for payment. The audit covered the period from April 1, 2005 to November 30, 2011.
Kennedy’s role as co-manager drew more controversy as he was the romantic partner of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence. Spence has publicly denied any conflict of interest, saying she had withdrawn herself from the process of selecting the co-manager.
Co-management is the middle level of intervention by the federal government in order to improve a First Nation’s financial situation. The co-manager is agreed upon by both the federal government and the First Nation.
In a release, Attawapiskat First Nation said it will not issue any more details about the charges.
When contacted by Wawatay News, Spence declined to comment. In the release, Attawapiskat said Spence “has recused herself from any involvement or discussion of this issue whatsoever, as she has done since Mr. Kennedy’s employment was first considered in 2010.”
At the time Kennedy was charged, he was the co-manager of Taykwa Tagamou First Nation, located near Cochrane, Ont.
Since the charges came to light, Taykwa Tagamou has relieved Kennedy of his duties.
Kennedy was released on conditions and will appear in court in Attawapiskat on May 28.
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