Joseph Charles Beaverho leaves the Yellowknife courthouse on August 7, 2019. James O'Connor/Cabin Radio
Full details have been issued of the two-year house arrest handed to a 64-year-old caught stealing funds intended to help Indigenous students.
Last week, a Territorial Court judge said Joseph Charles Beaverho’s six-figure betrayal may be felt more keenly as the funds he stole were intended for students pursing post-secondary education.
Territorial Court Judge Donovan Molloy sentenced the former Tłı̨chǫ Scholarship Program (TSP) officer, who worked in Behchokǫ̀, to two years less one day – served in the community under house arrest.
Molloy has now supplied full details of the restraints Beaverho will face while under house arrest. In the wake of the sentence, some residents had suggested house arrest was too lenient a sentence for a man who appropriated more than $120,000 from the scholarship fund.
“Providing employees access to hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds requires trust,” stated Molloy. “Circumstances without financial controls in place make employers solely dependent on trust. Solely relying on trust is a main ingredient of the recipe for fraud.
“In this case, tempted by addiction and influenced by other factors, Mr Beaverho started down the slippery trail of misappropriating public funds.”
The frauds continued for two years before their detection. As a result of his breach of trust, $120,721 was stolen from the fund.
“Ultimately I must decide what is a fit sentence based on the circumstances of the offence and Mr Beaverho’ s circumstances,” stated the judge, noting there were also significant Gladue factors to take under consideration.
The longstanding Gladue principle, named after Cree woman Jamie Tanis Gladue, requires judges to take into consideration circumstances facing Indigenous peoples in order to arrive at an appropriate sentence.
“Mr Beaverho is impacted by many Gladue factors that are considered as lessening moral blameworthiness,” stated Molloy. “As with many pre-sentence reports in this jurisdiction, it contains details of trauma and abuses suffered.
“I see no need to enumerate them beyond noting that I find them to be significant and substantial. That finding lends support to accepting the joint submission that Mr Beaverho be permitted to serve the custodial sentence in the community as an alternative to actual imprisonment.
“Despite the abuse he endured in his childhood he maintained gainful employment throughout his life, was a productive member of his community, and earned the respect of many.”
Molloy also credited Beaverho for entering an early guilty plea and admitting responsibility to his employer in 2013, when the fraud was discovered and confirmed by auditors employed by the Independent Audit Bureau (IAB).
The IAB provided the results of its audit and his confession to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in May 2013. For unknown reasons, he was not charged until January 3, 2019.
As previously reported by Cabin Radio, the frauds were carried out between April 15, 2010 and February 12, 2012. Beaverho fraudulently deposited 69 cheques from the TSP into his own accounts.
Molloy received a joint submission recommending a period of imprisonment of two years less one day from Crown prosecutor Trevor Johnson and defence lawyer Jay Bran.
Molloy’s full sentence conditions for Beaverho, who is unemployable and unable to pay any money back, mean he must:
keep the peace and be of good behaviour;
appear before the court when required to do so;
report to a supervisor when required;
remain within the Northwest Territories unless written permission is obtained;
abstain from alcohol or drugs, except for medications prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner;
complete a minimum of 180 hours’community service work, at a rate of no fewer than eight hours per month;
provide, for the purpose of analysis, a sample of a bodily substance for drug tests;
attend and participate in counselling, programming, or other related activities as recommended by the sentence supervisor; and
reside at his house or the property immediately adjacent to the residence at all times.
Exceptions to the residency rule will be made for medical emergencies involving Beaverho or a member of his immediate family, attendance at church once a week, or for the completion of approved community service work.
Also, on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, Beaverho may be absent from 1pm to 3pm to attend to personal matters and errands in Behchokǫ̀. On Saturdays he can be away from 1pm to 5pm to visit Yellowknife.
He is barred from contacting the woman who notified authorities about the irregularities in the first place.
In a letter of apology to his former employer, Beaverho admitted he was in “deep trouble” for his gambling addiction.
“I am writing this letter in order to make an apology for the grave mistake I have committed. I am extremely sorry for the lack of judgement … I have been such a sincere, hard worker, and dedicated employee … and therefore, you [may be in disbelief] and shock by such kind of misdeed done by me. However, I was in deep trouble with gambling addiction and owing monies that may have triggered me to resort to this immoral act.
“At last and finally I can only ask for a leniency and compassion. However, I am ready to bear any kind of consequences as well as accept that I will never repeat such kind of mistake again.”