Former Spuzzum band manager sentenced for stealing $140,000

Sandra Andrew forced to repay $40,000, given 15-month condition sentence and probation

The former band manager who stole close to $140,000 from the Spuzzum First Nation won’t go to jail but she will have to pay a portion of the money back.

By writing cheques to herself and forging signatures of elected band officials over a period of approximately two-and-a-half years, Sandra Andrew caused “chaos and confusion” in the tiny Fraser Canyon community, according to BC Supreme Court Justice Neill Brown.

“The ties that bound this longstanding community were frayed,” Brown said in reading his decision Friday. “This obviously was a traumatizing experience.”

Brown handed Andrew a 15-month conditional sentence, 36 months probation, and Andrew is ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $40,000 to the Spuzzum First Nation and $3,000 to Money Mart on Luckakuck Way in Chilliwack.

Andrew is also prohibited for life from working as a bookkeeper or a manger for any First Nation, and she is banned from working with other people’s money.

RELATED STORY: Former Abbotsford Police finance director on hook for $312,000

The $40,000 amount is the difference between the total amount she stole, leaving unpaid the $99,000 covered by insurance.

“Ironically, Miss Andrew took out that insurance,” Brown added.

The sentence was mostly a joint submission. The only place where Crown and defence disagreed was on whether or not Andrew should be required to pay the $99,000 back to the insurer. Andrew said she had no ability to pay that back, while Crown said she should be forced to since that would lessen the “sky-high” insurance premiums the band is now paying.

Brown said he saw the merit in Crown’s argument, but ruled since there is no evidence of assets purchased from the embezzled funds, there is no way Andrew could pay the $99,000 back so he did not order it.

On a long list of aggravating factors in the sentencing, Brown pointed out that all the while Andrew was stealing the money between 2009 and 2012, she was also stirring up ill will among the Spuzzum First Nation by accusing others of being paranoid, even threatening to sue anyone who questioned her ethics.

“There was a high degree of premeditation and deception,” he added, pointing to weekly cheques of $1,000 she wrote to herself, locking her office door while she forged signatures, and then there was the secret “black list” she created affecting band members in the community.

The theft also put the band into overdraft and the serious threat of receivership, something still affecting its credit and relationship with businesses and others.

The federal government also took $80,000 of funding away.

Andrew’s theft even affected the children in Spuzzum who could no longer go to Chilliwack to attend schools as the band could no longer afford to pay School District 33 for that right.

The only mitigating factor Brown suggested was that Andrew eventually did plead guilty. She did so after the trial had begun, but at least it meant a number of people did not have to testify, including a band member in ill health and someone from auditing firm KPMG who discovered the embezzlement during an audit, testimony that would have caused further expense to the band.

A large group of members of the Spuzzum First Nation were in court to attend the sentencing on Friday. In addressing them, Brown suggested he was moved by how well the band had done to overcome this theft. He even suggested a written version of his judgment could be used as encouragement to the federal government to reinstate funding.

“Stand together, support one another. All will be well.”


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

CIVL studio named after former hosts

Anger-Leslie Broadcast Studio named after two volunteers who died in 2015

Rainfall warning issued across Lower Mainland into the weekend

50 to 70 mm of rain expected to fall starting overnight Friday and into Sunday morning

Husband pleads guilty in relation to 2009 killing of Kulwinder Gill

Abbotsford woman died in hit-and-run conspiracy

UPDATE: Police ‘standoff’ in Abbotsford ends when man wakes up from nap

Incident on Thursday began with report of individual carrying a gun

Man steals police car, goes for a slow ride

Mission RCMP have arrested a man after he took a joy ride in a stolen police car

VIDEO: ‘Lyle the singing pig’ searching for home

SPCA say the pig is ‘not opera-ready’

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

SLIDESHOW: West Coast Women’s Show underway at Tradex

17th annual event opened Fridays and runs all weekend

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

West Coast Women’s Show returns to Abbotsford

Annual event runs Oct. 20 to 22 at Tradex

National character conference in Abbotsford

Event on Oct. 20, new chair named for local group

Most Read