New Brunswick

Sackville woman accused of stealing from playschool pleads not guilty

Marie Lysianne Steeves, the Sackville woman accused of stealing more than $5,000 from a preschool, pleaded not guilty Thursday in a Moncton court.

Marie Lysianne Steeves, 44, is accused of theft over $5,000 from Sackville’s Play school Inc.

Marie Lysianne Steeves, 44, leaves the Moncton courthouse after pleading not guilty to stealing from the not-for-profit preschool where she was treasurer and a member of the board. (CBC)

Marie Lysianne Steeves, 44, pleaded not guilty Thursday to stealing from a not-for-profit playschool where she was treasurer and a member of the board.

The Sackville woman is charged with theft over $5,000 from Playschool Inc. from January 2012 through October 2018.

Outside the Moncton courthouse, Allison Butcher, director and head teacher at the preschool in Sackville, said the school has been able to raise enough money to open the doors this September.

A letter was sent to parents April 30 saying there was a risk the school would close for good in June and needed to raise $7,000.

"The community came together with fundraising efforts and we are fortunate that we are able to meet those expectations and bills," said Butcher. 

But she added: "We're not out of the woods by any means. It will be a very long time if ever that we are able to recoup what's lost."

Butcher said she couldn't comment on the proceedings or what happened during the nearly six years Steeves is alleged to have stolen from the group. 

Allison Butcher, head teacher and director of Playschool Inc. in Sackville, says the group raised enough money to keep the school open, but 'we’re not out of the woods by any means.' (CBC)

But the letter to parents said the board and staff became aware of funds that "appeared to be missing" from the organization and had "encountered a significant financial problem."

An accountant was brought in to investigate, and according to the letter, "funds had been gradually embezzled from the organization over several years and documents falsified to conceal the fraud."

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

Steeves did not comment as she left the courthouse. Her trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 9, 2020. Two days were set aside for the proceedings. A preliminary hearing is set for December.

Playschool is a designated New Brunswick early learning centre, catering to children from two to five years old.

About the Author

Tori Weldon

Reporter

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