New Brunswick

Sackville woman accused of theft over $5K from local playschool

Marie Lysianne Steeves, 44, is accused of stealing more than $5,000 from a Sackville not-for-profit organization, Play School Inc., over nearly six years. 

Play School Inc. says in a letter to parents it may close down in June

Marie Lysianne Steeves, 44, is accused of stealing more than $5,000 from Play School Inc., a registered charity in Sackville. Steeves is a former treasurer who served on the board of directors. (CBC)

Marie Lysianne Steeves, 44, is accused of stealing more than $5,000 from a Sackville not-for-profit organization, Play School Inc., over nearly six years. 

Steeves was the treasurer and a member of the board of directors throughout the time she is accused of stealing money, between January 2012 and October 2018.

The accused waived her right to the reading of election in Moncton court Thursday. 

Her lawyer, Stephanie Leahy, said disclosure documents were only received late last week and asked the matter be pushed until July. The judge approved the request, setting the next appearance for July 11.

Steeves did not comment as she left the courthouse.

'Gradually embezzled'

Allison Butcher, director of Play School Inc., was at the proceedings but refused to comment.

A letter obtained by CBC News sent to parents of children attending the centre dated April 30 described an organization in desperate financial shape.

Play School Inc. is a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre, catering to children from two to five years old. It's also known as a preschool, with sessions lasting three hours a day, two days a week.

The letter stated the centre "is at risk of closing its doors as early as June of this academic year."

Allison Butcher, director of Sackville Play School Inc., was at the Moncton courthouse for the proceedings but declined to comment on advice from the group's lawyer. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

The letter goes on to explain the board of directors noticed "funds appeared to be missing from the organization" in the fall of last year. Legal and accounting advice was obtained, and a lengthy investigation was conducted.

The accountant came to the conclusion "funds had been gradually embezzled from the organization over several years, and documents falsified to conceal the fraud," alleged the centre.

The letter stated the person thought to be responsible for the theft was "discharged from all responsibilities within the organization."

The charge of theft has yet to be tested in court.

RCMP notified

The letter stated the board reported the matter to the police in January.

The board wrote that new measures have been put in place "to ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

It also said, "We need to raise a minimum of $7000 by June 30th, 2019 in order to continue operation."

About the Author

Tori Weldon

Reporter

Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.