$1 million alleged stolen

A company that provides support services for people in Kelowna with "diverse abilities” claims its former bookkeeper stole $1 million from the organization over 13 years.

In November, Access Human Resources Inc. filed a civil suit against Carey Earl, her bookkeeping company CE Business Services, Carey's husband Doug, the couple's two adult children and their stepson. The suit alleges Carey misappropriated funds from the business and gave large sums of the money to family members.

The organization, which has operated since 1993 and is primarily funded by the province, first discovered irregularities with its financials on Oct. 1, 2018.

“Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, almost immediately after commencing employment in November 2005, the defendant, Carey Earl, started electronically transferring large sums of money to her personal bank account(s),” the suit claims.

In an affidavit, Cliff Andrusko, executive director of Access Resources, says he confronted Earl on Oct. 26, 2018, about the alleged thefts.

“She admitted that she had stolen, misappropriated and/or embezzled funds from the plaintiff's accounts as outlined above,” Andrusko stated in the affidavit. “The defendant, Carey Earl, stated to me, 'You are right, I stole from you. Do what you need to do, and I will plead guilty at court.'”

In a court decision published last month, Justice Gary Weatherill noted that Earl has not denied misappropriating the funds, but denies the amount alleged.

“She says that much of the money can be accounted for as legitimate wages payable to Doug, Rodney, Lexi, and herself, who were performing services for Access,” Weatherill stated. Rodney and Lexi are Carey's children.

That court decision references an allegation that the defendant took over $2.7 million from Access Resources, $378,615 of which was for legitimate wages, but Andrusko says they now believe the misappropriated amount is closer to $1 million.

In their filed responses to the suit, Carey, Doug, Rodney, Lexi, and Lexi's husband Shawn Terry all deny the allegations.

In Doug's response, he notes that while he denies he was enriched by any alleged misappropriations, he says Access Resources “exhibited a lack of diligence in discovering the alleged misappropriations,” by failing to “make reasonable, if any, inquiries regarding account activity and expenses.”

Access Resources alleges the family used the company's money to buy homes in Kelowna, Lake Country and Anglemont, along with vehicles and two fifth-wheel trailers.

Andrusko says the alleged thefts occurred over a long period of time, and the missing money has not impacted the services they provide in any way. The organization, which serves about 150 people in the community, conducted an internal investigation and is now waiting for the RCMP to investigate.

A court date has yet to be set for the civil case. No criminal charges have been laid in the case at this time, and none of the allegations has been proven in court.

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