Hamilton seniors choir defrauded of $50K by treasurer, police say
Canadian Orpheus Male Choir now trying to rebuild its assets
The Hamilton-based Canadian Orpheus Male Choir is trying to restock its suddenly bare bank accounts after being allegedly bilked out of $50,000 by its volunteer treasurer, Hamilton police say.
Police announced Monday that 42-year-old Mackenzie Jenkyns has been charged with fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000.
Jenkyns, who also goes by the last name Kristjon, produces music in Hamilton under the moniker "This Mad Desire."
He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Choir registrar John Nelson told CBC News the situation hit the group hard once they realized what was going on.
"It's shocking," he said. "When trust is breached like that it's an emotionally very shocking experience."
The choir is made up of mostly retirees, with an average of 77, Nelson said — though there are a few younger members as well. It has been around for 40 years, and also regularly donates to charities like the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society.
The group first noticed something was wrong back in September, when payroll cheques for their music director and accompanist bounced.
Nelson says Jenkyns personally made a payment to those two to square up, but then the group's concert secretary was having a hard time getting a hold of him to get a cheque to book a hall for a concert in October.
"Things just weren't adding up," Nelson said.
So the choir's president went to look at their bank accounts directly.
"What he found out was that our investment account had nothing, our bingo account [a fundraising account] had nothing, our operating account had $200 in it," Nelson said. "He looked at the bank statements, and he saw [withdrawals for] $200 here, $250 there, $500 there."
Nelson says the president discovered the treasurer had allegedly been writing cheques to himself and then forging a second signature.
All told, the choir had lost thousands of dollars, he added.
The group went to police, then set about rebuilding their assets. Choir members have written cheques as a loan to get them over this hump, Nelson said, alongside thousands of dollars in donations from a GoFundMe account.
Police say Jenkyns was released on a promise to appear and is scheduled to be in court on Dec. 18.
Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call police at 905-546-4526.