Canada
Native leader charged in fraud avoids jail sentence

Credits: paulo Jorge cruz - Fotolia

JAMES TURNER | QMI AGENCY

WINNIPEG -- The former CEO of an aboriginal health services concern and co-manager of an Interlake First Nation won't see jail time for bilking the two agencies out of more than $250,000.

Daryl Cote, 57, was handed a conditional sentence of two years less a day after admitting to defrauding the now-defunct health agency Anishinaabe Mino-Ayaawin (AMA) Inc. and the Dauphin River First Nation.

Cote was charged in 2009 after a four-year RCMP investigation prompted by a Health Canada audit of the AMA which revealed shady transactions and financial irregularities between 1999 and March 2004.

Cote manipulated financial transactions involving cash and cheques in his positions of trust at the two organizations, court heard.

The money went towards "lifestyle enhancements," Judge Lynn Stannard said Tuesday, but added there was no evidence of lavish spending on Cote's part.

The scheme was not sophisticated, Stannard said.

"It was only a matter of time before (Cote) was caught," Stannard said. "His actions showed a basic lack of common sense."

Cote, who has already made significant repayment efforts to Dauphin River, still owes the band $76,200 of a total $119,000.

He must also reimburse the federal government $152,893 for what was taken from the AMA.

Cote was hired by AMA in 1998. He resigned in 2004, a year before Health Canada froze AMA's funding. AMA closed in 2005.

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