Former named partner at accounting firm accused of defrauding Kelowna Minor Lacrosse Association

CPA accused of major fraud

A former Chartered Professional Accountant and the former treasurer of Kelowna Minor Lacrosse has been accused of defrauding the youth sports organization.

The Kelowna RCMP says John Scott Adams, 57, has been charged with theft and fraud over $5,000 as the result of a three-year investigation.

The current treasurer of the KMLA, Craig Cochrane, tells Castanet over $100,000 was allegedly stolen.

"He falsified financial statements through his accounting firm to cover up his theft. It actually came to light during a gaming audit. We did a full reconciliation of the previous years and found that there has been ongoing theft for a couple of years," Cochrane said.

Cochrane says the theft came as a massive shock, considering Adams was the named partner at the accounting firm Adams Heyman Owen. The firm has since rebranded as Heyman Owen Chartered Professional Accountants.

"It is another example of volunteer organizations where few people are wearing many hats. There just wasn't proper controls in place to stop him. No segregation of duty because there are not enough people," Cochrane said.

Jason Owen, current partner at Heyman Owen Chartered Professional Accountants, tells Castanet Adams had worked with the firm since 2005. Adams allegedly used the firm's letterhead and software to help cover up the fraud.

Owen says everyone at the office was completely unaware of what was going on.

Through specific software from the accounting firm, police were able to determine that no one besides Adams ever touched or accessed the fraudulent documents that were assembled at the firm.

Owen said Adams' children played in the minor lacrosse league.

In a brief statement, RCMP say they began an investigation into missing funds at KMLA in October 2018.

The Kelowna RCMP Economic Crime Unit led the investigation and worked closely with the Kelowna Minor Lacrosse Association and the Gaming Board to gather information and advance the investigation.

An indictment filed at the Kelowna courts alleges Adams committed theft of money over $5,000 and defrauded the Kelowna Minor Lacrosse Association from October 16, 2014 to October 10, 2018.

A notice published by the Charted Professional Accountants of B.C. says Adams voluntarily resigned his registration as a CPA on Nov. 30, 2018.

"Despite the resignation of Mr. Adams’ membership in CPABC, CPABC initiated disciplinary proceedings against him alleging numerous breaches of the CPA Code of Professional Conduct, including committing fraud and preparing false financial statements to cover it up. In order to resolve the disciplinary proceedings, Mr Adams has (among other things) undertaken not to ever apply for readmission to membership in CPABC," the statement said.

The league says Adams fully repaid the KMLA.

Adams is scheduled to appear in Court on January 11, 2022.

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