Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
RCMP: Small tin saved Trail man from stabbing

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

School District 8 is asking the education ministry to stop making the Foundation Skills Assessment data public. File photo
Kootenay Lake School District requests education ministry make annual student assessments private

The district is concerned the data is being misused by the Fraser Institute

Nelson has begun 2021 with a small rise in COVID-19 cases. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Ten new cases of COVID-19 in Nelson area

The cases were reported for the week of Jan. 3 to 9

Zoey Uniat is now three months old. Photo: Submitted
Castlegar baby with rare disorder progressing towards coming home

Fundraiser for Zoey Uniat has raised more than $50,000

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Sunnybank
COVID-19 related deaths at Oliver, West Kelowna and Vernon senior care homes

Sunnybank, Heritage Retirement Residence and Noric House recorded deaths over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read