A teacher has pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery after taking nearly $82,000 from the Inverness local of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
Last month, 54-year-old Robert Lee LeLievre of Cheticamp admitted in Port Hawkesbury provincial court that he signed the president's name to 120 cheques, totalling $81,930.78 over the span of two years.
The leader of the NSTU local said the case has caused a lot of hurt within the organization.
According to the facts presented in court Dec. 19, the union president became suspicious and reported the crime to RCMP last spring.
LeLievre, who was the local's treasurer at the time, was called into the RCMP station and admitted to taking $23,000 between May 2021 and March 2023.
He expressed remorse and said he intended to repay the money.
Volunteered to become treasurer
However, investigation revealed that the former union president and well known volunteer had taken a lot more.
Court was told LeLievre volunteered to become treasurer after learning the union local was expecting an injection of cash and began forging cheques shortly afterward.
Court was also told the amounts started out smaller, but eventually grew as large as $3,000.
Some cheques were issued to his wife, but there was no indication that she was involved in the crimes.
The East Coast Credit Union recovered $19,738.96 and returned it to the NSTU local and court was told LeLievre has since repaid the remaining $62,200.
The information presented in court did not indicate what LeLievre did with the money he took or how he paid it all back.
LeLievre did not return a request for comment.
Victim impact statements expected
He is still listed as a teacher on the Inverness Education Centre and Academy's website, but the Strait Regional Centre for Education said in an email he is no longer employed with them.
The NSTU's main office declined comment because the matter is before the courts.
In an email, Inverness local president Vince Jessome said several union members will be submitting victim impact statements when LeLievre is sentenced in court Feb. 6.
"This event has been a very difficult and challenging time for our local and we look forward to some closure," he said.
Under the Criminal Code, fraud can lead to a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, while forgery is punishable with up to 10 years behind bars.
LeLievre's defence lawyer indicated in court he may ask for a conditional sentence, which would mean no prison time, but the Crown attorney and judge expressed concerns about that given the amount of money involved.
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