Hamilton police have not yet laid charges in the case of suspected theft of more than $1 million dollars from city hall.

The city announced in June it had fired an employee after $1,058,235.20 disappeared from municipal coffers over a span of nine years. The suspected fraud has sparked a police probe that is still underway. 

"The investigation is ongoing with the major fraud unit and there are no updates at this time," Const. Debbie McGreal-Dinning, a spokesperson for the Hamilton Police Service, told CBC Hamilton on Thursday.

She said she didn't know whether charges would be laid and wouldn't give a timeframe on when the police probe is expected to conclude.

"That's part of the investigation," said McGreal-Dinning, who wouldn't comment on the specifics of the probe. "I don't know what [the investigators] have to go through."

Mike Hawrylyshyn, an accounts receivable co-ordinator, lost his job in connection with the fraud. The city has not confirmed his firing, but has said the fraud led to the dismissal of single worker.

Mike Zegarac, the city's acting head of finance, told CBC Hamilton in June that the suspected theft is related to the transfer of cash between its service providers and the city.

City brass, he said, discovered the discrepancies this spring, while they were in the process of encouraging vendors who normally pay in cash to supply cheques instead.

Market probe

The police have not commented on the specifics of their investigation, but a series of notices issued to stallholders at the Hamilton Farmers' Market suggests that the probe had spread to the city-run service.

Market vendors received letters in June asking them for their help in the investigation.

"Recently the city advised that a long-term employee was found to have committed theft from the City of Hamilton," said market manager Donna Lee Macdonald in a June 27 statement.

"If any market vendor is contacted by the police to assist in their investigation, we encourage you to co-operate."

Shane Coleman, president of the market's vendors association, said on Thursday that police had contacted a vendor as part of the fraud investigation.

"I did give them a tip and I'm told they did follow up on that tip," said Coleman, who wouldn't reveal the identity of the source.

However, two vendors who paid the rent for their stalls in cash said they had not been interviewed.

Jon Van Der Nol, who manages British Baked Goods, and Ethilda Johnson, who owns and operates Tilda's Tropical Delight, are among the few farmers' market stallholders who do not pay by cheque.

In June, Van Der Nol identified Hawrylyshyn as the city employee who came to pick up the rent, while Johnson said a man name "Mike," whose surname she didn't know, was responsible for taking care of the task.

When contacted on Thursday, both Van Der Nol and Johnson said police had not come by to interview them about the case.

"They haven't been by yet," Van Der Nol said.

He said he's not alarmed by the fact that no charges have been laid, or that the police have not finished their investigation.

"These things take a long time, years even."

Grievance filed

CBC Hamilton cannot confirm whether rent money Hawrylyshyn collected from market vendors was handled improperly or whether those funds have been linked to the $1-million dollar case of fraud.

The longtime city employee has filed a grievance in response to his dismissal. Earlier in July, Derron Vernon, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees's Local 5167, confirmed his unit is representing a worker who's involved in the case, but would not disclose that person's name.

"We don't give names of individuals who've filed grievances, but I think everybody knows there was a person who was terminated in connection with missing funds."

CBC Hamilton reached Hawrylyshyn at his Ancaster home on Thursday afternoon. He refused to answer questions on the case, but gave the following response — before quickly hanging up the phone:

"I have nothing to do with it. I am retired. You have the wrong person. And that's it."