The former treasurer of the Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) will be appearing in court this month to face charges of stealing about $4,000 from the organization.
Derek Gamelin is charged with theft under $5,000. He is alleged to have forged his signature to two BIA cheques in October of last year.
BIA president Dennis O’Connor says association?s cheques require two signing officers. He says the cheques in question had one authentic signature and another signature that didn’t jibe. O’Connor says the irregularities were noticed as soon as the cleared cheques were returned by the bank in November.
“When the cleared cheques came back, the coordinator noticed at once. The moment the coordinator discovered that, we marched into the bank and closed the account at once,” says O’Connor.
O’Connor says he was surprised to find out from police that such obvious thefts occur frequently.
“The thieves must think everyone else is really stupid.”
O’Connor says the prompt action by the BIA is reassuring.
“If anything, it makes the BIA look pretty cool. It was discovered almost immediately.”
But O’Connor says the BIA has taken steps to ensure that in the future such thefts would be even harder to perpetrate.
“It’s far more difficult now. Most of the money is in GICs and so on, so the money can?t be touched by anyone. The cheques are now kept under lock and key.”
O’Connor says it’s hard when someone who is part of an organization becomes the centre of an investigation.
“It kind of hurts a little bit.”
Gamelin is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tue, Aug 15.
The BIA was founded in 2002 to promote the businesses on and around Church St, as well as beautify the area.
It has the power to levy businesses to pay for neighbourhood improvements like benches and banners. It’s unusual among Toronto BIAs, with the “remembrance of a history rich in advocacy for sexual liberation, social justice and equality” as part of its mission statement.
The BIAs largest event is the Church Street Fetish Fair, to be held this year on Sun, Aug 20 from noon until 10pm.