New Brunswick

Cherry Brook Zoo alleges former director practised 'dishonesty'

Documents filed in a wrongful dismissal suit shed more light on the fractured relationship between the Cherry Brook Zoo's former chief administrative director, Leonard Collrin, and the facility's board of directors.

Statement of defence filed in Leonard Collrin's lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal, defamation

Cherry Brook Zoo Defence Filed

5 years ago
1:37
Documents filed in a wrongful dismissal suit shed more light on the fractured relationship between the Cherry Brook Zoo's former chief administrative director, Leonard Collrin, and the facility's board of directors. 1:37

Documents filed in a wrongful dismissal suit shed more light on the fractured relationship between the Cherry Brook Zoo's former chief administrative director, Leonard Collrin, and the facility's board of directors.

The organization recently filed a statement of defence to allegations made in a suit launched by Collrin alleging unjust dismissal, defamation and damage to property.

In its statement of defence the zoo says Collrin and his wife Lynda Collrin "knowingly submitted expense reports for charges and cash advances on their credit cards for purchases that were not reimbursable expenses."

The statement says zoo staff became aware of financial irregularities in April 2015 and the board was notified of the allegations on July 4, 2016, prompting an "urgent" meeting and an investigation.

The two sides offer differing accounts on how many purchases came to be handled at the facility.

Cherry Brook Zoo's former chief administrative director, Leonard Collrin is suing the organization alleging unjust dismissal, defamation and damage to property (CBC)
Collrin claims in his suit the zoo was unable to obtain its own credit and the couple used their personal credit cards to finance "day-to-day operations" which were then reimbursed.

The board's statement of defence says the zoo had the ability to get financing on its own and alleges the Collrin's "were eager" to use their personal cards because of the rewards they could earn.

The statement describes the transactions as "willful and deliberate acts of dishonesty."

Neither Collrin's lawyer, Andy Lodge, nor the zoo's John Gillis could be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.

Evicted in June

Collrin and his wife Lynda Collrin were evicted in July from the home on zoo property where they had lived since 1979.

In his statement of claim Collrin said he worked 80 hours a week at the facility while his wife, Lynda worked for the zoo as a volunteer.

The claim alleges the zoo's board "acted maliciously" when evicting the Collrins from their home with police officers present, an act he says was unnecessary and served only to humiliate the couple.

Collrin's claim says further that his reputation has been hurt by statements that "alleged possible financial irregularities" at the zoo warranting asking police involvement."

Sgt. Chuck Brien of Saint John police confirmed Tuesday activities at the zoo continue to be investigated by the fraud unit.

None of the allegations in the documents have been proven in court.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connell Smith is a reporter with CBC in Saint John. He can be reached at 632-7726 Connell.smith@cbc.ca

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