August 01, 2013 - 5:11 AM
FORMER PRESIDENT SAYS LEONG ABUSED ACCESS TO PRE-SIGNED CHEQUES
KAMLOOPS - Former Kamloops councillor and Kamloops Heritage Railway Society treasurer, Joe Leong, is expected to make his first appearance today in court following charges of theft, fraud and breach of trust.
Leong faces multiple charges for two offences dated Feb. 10, 2011 and March 26, 2012 including two counts each of fraud, theft over $5,000 and breach of trust.
An RCMP investigation was prompted following an audit into suspicious transactions found by the society's board in 2012. The society was in flux when the transactions were noticed.
Past president Glen Wideman, president of the society when Leong was treasurer, told InfoTel News he was 'taken aback' by hearing of the charges against Leong.
He was shocked by the entire situation after seven years as president of the board.
"I really trusted Joe — in fact, we all did," Wideman said. "It was never any question."
Wideman said $100,000 was moved from a society account to Leong's business account.
"The money was taken out of our account, put into his company account, then it was put back into our account when it was questioned where the money had gone," Wideman said.
He said as treasurer, Leong had access to pre-signed cheques and went behind the society's back, using them without permission.
"He took advantage of that," he said. "If that money should have gone anywhere it should have gone into our investment account."
Wideman wants to look past the incident as he helps bring a new president up to speed after stepping down in June to allow 'somebody new' to step into the role.
The society itself is busy raising money to get Steam Locomotive 2141 back on the tracks. It was cancelled this year following mechanical issues. The City of Kamloops recently committed $54,000 for the renovations to the train.
"All that stuff that went on… we're having to build it up again," Wideman said. "Joe did this on his own. It was nothing to do with us."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013