Former Baker Lake SAO who stuffed suitcases with stolen bingo money sentenced to 2 years
Dennis Zettler will pay back $150,000 he stole from the hamlet over 7 and a half years
Dennis Zettler, 66, was sentenced Sept. 14 to two years less a day, for stealing $150,000 from the Hamlet of Baker Lake while he was senior administrative officer.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Zettler skimmed the money from bingo proceeds over seven and a half years. He worked as SAO for the community for a total of 22 years.
Zettler was arrested May 26, 2016, after he called police to report a break and enter at his home.
He claimed about $8,000 had been stolen while he was at work.
When police arrived, they found envelopes of money in a luggage bag in plain view, and questioned Zettler about it.
Zettler immediately replied, "OK, I steal money. I am guilty."
'Because I could get away with it'
In addition to $9,560 in cash found in the luggage, Zettler also pointed police to $4,000 hidden in a pair of shoes, and explained that a further $8,825 set aside for deposit in the hamlet's bank account appeared to have been stolen as part of the break and enter.
Zettler said he would collect money from community bingos and Nevada tickets, and set aside some of the cash for himself before counting and depositing the rest.
On average, he would steal $200 to $300 before counting or recording the remainder, leaving the community several times a year to deposit the stolen cash in a personal bank account in Toronto.
Asked why he did it, Zettler told police he took the money, "because I could get away with it."
Apology to mayor and council
The day after his arrest, Zettler was released on $10,000 bail.
He went down to the hamlet office, delivering a letter to mayor and council, apologizing for his actions.
Zettler also made out three cheques to the Hamlet of Baker Lake, each for $50,000, to cover the $150,000 he had stolen.
An independent review by forensic auditors found a number of irregularities with respect to the lotteries in Baker Lake.
Zettler was responsible for filling out and submitting account statements for the lottery proceeds to the Nunavut government.
The accountants reviewed 317 bingo documentation packages and found only 17 contained complete information, and of those, all showed reported revenues less than what was documented on the bingo cash-out sheets.
The other 300 packages did not have enough information to properly account for the funds.
On Sept. 14, Zettler was sentenced to two years, less a day. He lives in Ontario, and will serve his sentence under house arrest, subject to conditions.
Those conditions include a curfew and 250 hours of community service. He must also abstain from drinking or using drugs for the duration of his sentence.