Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich is shown presenting Shelley Mickens with a framed certificate upon her retirement in June 2016. (Facebook photo)

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

Civil court ruling orders Shelley Mickens to pay back embezzled funds

The former finance director of the Abbotsford Police Board has been ordered by the courts to pay back more than $300,000 that she embezzled over a 10-year period.

The civil court ruling against Shelley Dallas Mickens, who is also known by the surnames Boyce or Bursill, was made Sept. 15 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

The ruling does not convict her of any crime, and is separate from any criminal charges and related decisions that could arise in the future.

Mickens was ordered to pay a total of $312,417, as well as the City of Abbotsford’s court costs of $15,000.

The ruling indicates that Mickens cannot be released from the order by declaring bankruptcy and that the city has a “constructive trust” over any of her assets – including her residence on George Ferguson Way – acquired by the misappropriated funds.

The police board and the City of Abbotsford filed a notice of civil claim against Mickens on Feb. 22 of this year, initially saying she had stolen $192,000.

That amount was later amended to more than $312,000 after further discrepancies were discovered in police board accounting records.

Court records indicate that Mickens, who was in her role from April 1999 to June 2016, acquired the funds by preparing petty cash vouchers that contained “false and misleading information,” making misleading entries in the accounting record-keeping system and under-reporting cash payments.

Petty cash can be requested by an officer or employee of the Abbotsford Police Department to reimburse expenses – for example, to pay informants during the course of an investigation.

The petty cash vouchers are supposed to be signed by both the person issuing the voucher – another employee of the finance branch besides the director – and by the person receiving the cash.

But the court documents indicate that discrepancies in some of these transactions were discovered, including that some of the vouchers were in Mickens’ handwriting with her initials and were prepared on dates that the person normally handling the petty cash disbursements was out of the office.

As well, some of the vouchers were not signed by the party supposedly receiving the funds or were signed using initials that could not be matched to an existing employee.

The court documents indicate that the discrepancies were discovered after Mickens retired in June 2016.

Her successor, Randy Millard, took over in October of that year, and a member of the finance and budget branch asked him to review some suspicious transactions.

The documents state that Millard discovered several suspicious entries between February 2013 and April 2016, but he was not certain that Mickens had misappropriated the funds.

He believed she would be able to provide a “legitimate explanation” for the discrepancies, but, despite numerous attempts to obtain one, Mickens has never provided an explanation to the Abbotsford Police Department nor did she provide a response to the civil claim, the court records state.

A total of 59 fraudulent transactions were discovered. The first one, for $700, took place in 2006, but the remainder all occurred from 2009 to 2016.

Most were in amounts of $2,000, $3,000 or $4,000, but the largest – $7,500 – occurred on Jan. 29, 2016.

Many were done just days apart and there were long periods – all of 2011, 2013 and 2014 – where no theft occurred.

The APD previously indicated that the RCMP had been asked to investigate the matter to determine whether Mickens should be charged with any criminal wrongdoing. APD Const. Ian MacDonald confirmed Thursday that the investigation is still underway.

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