Nfld. & Labrador

Former director of Corner Brook business association acquitted of credit card fraud

Nicole McKinnon, who stole money from the Corner Brook Downtown Business Association in 2018, was acquitted Friday of two separate charges that she used a board member's personal credit card.

Nicole McKinnon was previously sentenced for 14 other charges

Nicole McKinnon, pictured here in 2019, was sentenced last year to house arrest on fraud and other charges. However, she was acquitted Friday on two separate charges that she used a board member's personal credit card. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

The former director of the Corner Brook Downtown Business Association — previously sentenced to house arrest for more than a dozen charges — was acquitted of two separate counts of fraud Friday.

Nicole McKinnon had previously admitted to defrauding the organization, from April to November 2018. She pleaded guilty in 2019 to several counts of theft, in addition to fraud, possession of stolen goods and breach of undertaking. 

For writing and cashing cheques to herself from the association's account, she was sentenced to a year of house arrest and ordered to pay $64,000 in restitution. 

In a separate trial, McKinnon was accused of using a volunteer board member's personal Visa credit card.

Diane Starling testified she gave McKinnon her credit card and asked her to pick up a few things, but McKinnon went on to use her credit card without her permission and charged $2,600 in expenses and never paid her back.

However, Judge Kymil Howe said Starling did not provide credible testimony. Howe said it was vague and, at times, difficult to follow.

In reading her decision, Howe referenced examples when Starling would get dates, times and text messages mixed up during her time on the stand. 

Paul Starling, Diane's husband, at times countered his wife's testimony and gave different dates and times for certain interactions with McKinnon, according to the judge.

"They make one very uncomfortable believing these details. Which version should one accept as being truthful beyond reasonable doubt?" asked Howe.

"Based on those comments in relation to the frailty of this evidence, I am not satisfied that the elements of the offences have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore I am going to enter an acquittal on both counts."

McKinnon was not in court for Friday's decision. 

The Corner Brook Downtown Business Association suspended operations indefinitely after McKinnon's crimes.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Colleen Connors