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Kelowna judge rules disgraced former social worker deprived youth

Robert Riley Saunders will be sentenced on June 22 and 23

A Kelowna Supreme Court judge has ruled that a disgraced former social worker did more than steal funds from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Robert Riley Saunders plead guilty to fraud over $5,000, forging a university diploma and breaching trust as a public official back in Sept. 2021, leading to a four-week long Gardiner hearing, used to determine aggravating facts that are in dispute by either the Crown or accused.

The exact amount of misappropriated funds have not yet been released, however Saunders agreed with the Crown’s suggestion that he stole $120,000 from the ministry in 2017 alone.

Now, the Crown has determined that the fraud case negatively impacted the youth in Saunders’ care.

“The Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the youth in Mr. Saunders’ care were at risk of deprivation by Mr. Saunders’ fraud,” said Justice Wilson on May 20, 2022.

READ MORE: Crown alleges fraudulent Kelowna social worker acted ‘without thought or care’

During the Gardiner hearing, Saunders alleged that there was no risk or harm posed to youth by his actions.

The fraudulent social worker stated that the youth experienced no financial deprivation and were not entitled to the funds he misappropriated.

READ MORE: Kelowna ex-social worker claims youth he defrauded were not entitled to funds

It is not yet known what the Crown and defence will suggest as sentencing. In Canadian Criminal Sentencing, fraud over $5,000 is a serious offence with a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.

In a similar case, the offender received a conditional sentence of three years for fraud over $5,000.

Saunders will return to court for sentencing on June 22.


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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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