Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Judge Orders Former Longshoremen Union Official to Repay $1.69 Million

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Judge Orders Former Longshoremen Union Official to Repay $1.69 Million

Article excerpt

Ex-union rep must repay $1.69 million: Judge

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VANCOUVER - The man who was in charge of finances for a Metro Vancouver union has been ordered by a court to repay $1.69 million in money he misappropriated, some of which he used to cover gambling debts.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck also ordered two adult children of Robert Victor Eric Ford to each repay the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 502 and a related society $2,000 that was deposited into their accounts.

In a decision released Friday, Affleck dismissed part of Ford's defence where he claimed he had the authority to take the money under long-standing practices of the local.

"There was no practice that if known to the members of the union local that could have led them to authorize Mr. Ford to appropriate for his own use sums of money which greatly exceeded his aggregate salary and benefits for the years 2006 through 2012," said Affleck.

Affleck said Ford, who served as secretary-treasurer from October 2003 and August 2012, was able to "perpetrate his dishonest scheme" because of the union local's lax accounting practices.

He said the local paid its bills mainly by cheque, which Ford could manipulate, and frequently dealt with cash. He said the local often gave the secretary-treasurer blank cheques, and Ford took advantage of the procedure "by writing cheques in essence to himself and camouflaging his deceit in various ways."

The judge adjourned the civil action by the union against Ford's wife. His two adult children who were ordered to repay money were identified as Mitchell Ford and James Ford.

Robert Ford's legal counsel declined to comment on the ruling.

Howard Mickelson, who represented the union and society in court, said his clients were pleased and grateful with the outcome, even though they know they will only see a fraction of the money. …

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