Trial begins for former North Glengarry tax collector

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A nine-day trial for Sandra Cameron, a former employee of the Township of North Glengarry, began Monday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Cornwall.

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Cameron was charged by the Ottawa Unit of the OPP Anti-Scam Directorate in October 2019 after a nearly two-year investigation that began in November 2017 when the township split from Cameron. She was charged with: breach of trust, mischief of computer data, fraud over $5,000, pretense and use of a false document.

Specifically, these charges allege that Cameron, between 2007 and 2017, issued false tax invoices and certificates to residents of North Glengarry and their attorneys, relating to annual residence taxes, home sales and home purchases.

Cameron pleaded not guilty to all of those charges on Monday.

“The estimated financial loss provided to investigators at the end of September 2019, breaking down the losses in taxes, penalties or interest for the township by month … leads to the total amount of the loss for the township of (1,045,654.03 $),” Crown Attorney Barb Glendinning said.

Glendinning led the court through a synopsis, detailing how then-Mayor Chris McDonell visited the OPP office in Alexandria SDG to report the alleged fraud, and the ensuing investigations. A total of 714 tax accounts were identified for review in September 2017. While police were also involved, the township hired Deloitte to assist with investigative efforts, at a cost of over $200,000. Deloitte has discovered transactional activity consistent with overlapping payments, which is used to conceal an overdue payment amount or debt.

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The first Crown witness was Linda Lancaster, a former water and accounts payable clerk for the Township of South Glengarry, who came out of retirement and began working with the Township of North Glengarry in their accounting department after Cameron’s departure. Lancaster answered several technical questions relating to the modalities of tax collection in the municipalities of Glengarry, to his knowledge, including certain functions of the Vadim accounting software. She also observed and commented on the documents presented in evidence.

Cameron was hired in 1995 by Kenyon Township as an office clerk. Upon amalgamation in 1998, she became an office clerk for the Township of North Glengarry. In 2001, Cameron was appointed assistant tax collector and she was promoted to tax collector in 2008. She went on short-term disability leave in 2016.

Cameron is represented by Ottawa lawyer John Hale, who has not yet cross-examined Lancaster.

The trial, which is being held by videoconference, is due to resume Tuesday at 10 a.m.

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Esther L. Steinbach