Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

An Okanagan woman, who alleges a social worker misappropriated funds she was entitled to while she was in foster care, has taken a small step forward in a large legal battle.

The woman, whose name is covered under a publication ban, filed a civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court naming the Ministry of Children and Family Development and Director of Child Welfare, Interior Savings Credit Union and several unnamed individuals. Also named is Robert Riley Saunders, her former social worker, whose bank records are the subject of the suit.

In court documents obtained by Kelowna Capital News, she alleges Saunders created a joint bank account with her, from which he subsequently transferred funds into other accounts in his name at Interior Savings. She also alleges negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy between Saunders and unknown employees of Interior Savings.

READ MORE: Former Kelowna social worker facing 4 new civil lawsuits

READ MORE: Lawsuits allege B.C. government social worker stole from foster children

The suit is still before the courts, but one legal battle turned out in the woman’s favour regarding efforts to have Saunders’ financial records produced.

While Interior Savings had already produced statements relating to the woman’s accounts, she was seeking further information regarding 17 other alleged victims who have accused Saunders of wrongdoing as well as mortgage documents and other financial information.

Interior Savings took the position that those documents were irrelevant and contained personal information of third parties who had not been given notice of the application.

The court agreed that certain requested documents were not germane to the suit but did order that Interior Savings produce some documents they previously hadn’t.

In an Oct. 16 decision, the judge noted the woman had tendered a copy of a “Personal Member Application” which was signed by Saunders as the applicant and an Interior Savings employee as a witness. Where the woman would have signed, over the words “applicant signature,” “not a signer,” was written.

The woman contends that this document is evidence that Interior Savings allowed Saunders to open an account in her name without her signature.

“She argues that this was contrary to Interior Savings’ policy, which required that a beneficiary sign a Personal Member Application and consent to an account being opened,” read the documents.

According to Interior Savings, that document was not for a joint account, but rather a trust account, for which the beneficiary’s signature is not required.

“The distinction between a joint account and a trust account may be an issue at trial,” read the decision.

However, the judge did find the account opening document submitted by the woman provides at least some evidence that Interior Savings allowed Saunders to open an account for the plaintiff without her signature or agreement.

Interior Savings was ordered to produce any further account opening documents on which one of the alleged victims of Saunders is “not a signer” or the alleged victim’s signature is left blank, as well as statements for those accounts.

“Beyond these specific documents, however, the plaintiff’s demand for all of the account documents for all of Saunders’ alleged victims is overbroad and unsupported by the pleadings or evidence,” the judge wrote.

The notice of application identifies 17 additional victims but does not explain their alleged victimization by Saunders or how his conduct in relation to those individuals is relevant to his conduct or the knowledge of the defendants in this action.

This proceeding is one of 10 actions naming Interior Savings as a defendant with respect to Saunders’ alleged misappropriation or mishandling of funds, three of which allege fraud and conspiracy.

“It is unclear how the allegations of the 15 other alleged victims relate to the matters at issue in these actions. I am informed by counsel for Interior Savings that the allegations in the other actions are different in kind from the allegations in these actions,” the judge wrote.

These allegations have not been proven in court.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Michelle Marentette outside the beginnings of her haunted house in Kitimat, which she's been doing for about 12 years now. Oct. 23, 2020. Clare Rayment photo.
Staying spooky and safe this Halloween in Kitimat

Most residents are still handing out candy and trying to make the best out of this year’s Halloween

The donation by LNG Canada will support in-class and online learning for SD82 students, as well as JABC TechWorks, a program that introduces students to tech and tech-related careers. (Black Press file photo)
LNG Canada commits $50,000 to support B.C. students

Half of the money will support online and in-class learning for Coast Mountains School District 82

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Kitimat RCMP investigating two-vehicle collision on Haisla Hill

Police said a pickup truck collided with a taxi headed in the opposite direction

Northern Health saw 14 cases in one day earlier this week, the highest in one day since the beginning of the pandemic. (Image courtesy CDC)
Northern Health sees highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Oct. 27 saw the highest number of cases in the Health Authority since the beginning of the pandemic

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read