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    Categories: City Hall

Resident accuses Heron of expense fraud

City councillor Cathy Heron is facing accusations of fraudulent expense claims after a presentation at council on Monday night.

During the final meeting for the sitting city council, William Tuchak, a retired Revenue Canada auditor, presented information on three incidents that he believes adds up to $3,331.61 in fraudulent expense claims.

Heron said the claims are without merit and that she is discouraged by the “continued hatred towards good residents and public servants.”

“These accusations are defamatory, false, baseless and slanderous. I expect a public formal apology,” Heron said.

Tuchak said that he did not look into any other councillor’s expenses and focused only on Heron.

“Why should I look at other councillors’ expenses?” Tuchak said. “I’m a retired person and Cathy Heron is, should we say, in the spotlight, so I was just looking at her and seeing what is it about her, and I discovered this.”

Heron is one of three candidates running for mayor in the fall election. Councillor Cam MacKay and Malcolm Parker are also running.

Alleged incidents

Tuchak highlighted three cases where he believes that Heron filed her expenses fraudulently.

The first was a trip to New Orleans to attend the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) in September and October 2014, where Tuchak claims that Heron submitted a fraudulent claim of $2,875.74.

Tuchak said that WEFTEC is not listed as an “approved agency” and Heron should not have been allowed to claim expenses from the city. Tuchak also said that Heron originally planned to keep her reimbursements for accommodations and meals but not per diems but then in December 2014 Heron claimed the per diems for a total of $1,400. This along with the $1,475.74 in previous expenses claimed for the conference totalled $2,875.74 in alleged fraudulent expenses.

Heron said that she was asked to attend the conference on behalf of the Alberta Capital Region Waste Water Commission (ACRWWC), who paid for her expenses, and the city of St. Albert “did not pay a single dollar towards this conference.” Heron said that the WEFTEC conference is not an agency but rather an approved conference by the ACRWWC.

According to Heron she is required to submit the expenses to the city, as per the city’s transparency policy, but the commission reimburses all of the fees and paid for the per diems.

Heron said that she has been in contact with ACRWWC and they assured her that she has no concerns with her expenses.

Tuchak also highlighted two instances where he alleged Heron claimed per diems and mileage to attend ACRWWC meetings in Fort Saskatchewan but notes that the meetings minutes state that she was absent. The first instance was on Sept. 18, 2015 and the second instance was on Oct. 20, 2016 and add up to $455.87.

Heron said that she is having the city look into the two instances.

“I am having the city ensure that no errors were made. I would be surprised as my attendance record is the highest of any councillor,” Heron said.

Along with presenting in council, Tuchak said he delivered the documents to the St. Albert RCMP on Aug. 1.

Cpl. Laurel Scott, Media Relations Officer for the Central Alberta District said that they do not disclose whether investigations are ongoing.

“We do release information when charges are sworn or when public information may advance an investigation,” Scott said.

During Monday’s council meeting Crouse asked City Manager Kevin Scoble to look into the allegations quickly and Crouse said that he anticipates a response in a few days.

Jennifer Henderson: Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.