Former Mosquito First Nation chief Clarence Stone will learn of his fate July 13.
That is when Judge Richard Danyliuk expects to bring down his decision on sentencing Stone in respect to the a Treaty Land Entitlement fraud case that enveloped Mosquito First Nation.
Stone was before Danyliuk in Queen’s Bench court Thursday for a sentencing hearing after previously pleading guilty to theft over $5,000 on the Mosquito reserve.
Stone was one of five people charged in connection to the activities that took place in the early 2000s. TLE trustees Alphonse Moosomin and Eldon Starchief were both sentenced to one year in jail followed by probation and community service after pleading guilty to criminal breach of trust charges. Clifford Spyglass, passed away a short time ago, while Gerald Bird, is still before the courts on fraud, theft and breach of trust.
Both Moosomin and Starchief were sentenced by Judge Violet Meekma in December 2010 in North Battleford provincial court. In his submissions in court Thursday, Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter called on the judge to “follow her decision to the letter” in sentencing Stone, urging a one-year jail sentence.
According to the Crown’s submissions, the five individuals charged were responsible for the misappropriation of Treaty Land Entitlement money that was supposed to have been specifically set aside for the purchase of land, or “shortfall acres” on the reserve. The money was part of a settlement by the federal government.
However, in court the Crown painted a picture of gross misappropriation of the funds. According to Ritter’s submissions, even though over $1.7 million in TLE money was spent only $343,000 of land was purchased for Mosquito reserve.
The cost to the band was described by Ritter as “outrageous”, with the rest of the money spent on site visits, and countless meetings, including ones at the Calgary Stampede. There were also personal benefits for the trustees.
The five charged received $433,000 and Clarence Stone was responsible for $23,500, according to the Crown. The defence, however, was willing to admit responsibility for only $22,900.
Several written submissions were filed, including a victim impact statement from Robert Armstrong, a former TLE trustee who had assisted the RCMP investigation against Stone and the other accused. In his statement Armstrong said members of the reserve would suffer for years to come.
While the Crown called for a jail sentence, the defence called for a conditional sentence order, saying Stone’s level of culpability was the lowest of the five individuals accused.
During the sentencing hearing, Little Pine First Nation chief Wayne Semaganis was called as a witness for the defence to speak to issues affecting the accused.
Semaganis described Stone as having done a lot of good for his community as chief in pushing for jobs and infrastructure on the Mosquito reserve.
Semaganis described Stone as an “extremely proud person” and a “very caring and humble guy.”
Under cross-examination by Ritter, Semaganis was asked if he would be surprised to find out that Mosquito reserve did not meet its shortfall acres. “It would surprise me,” Semaganis responded.
Semaganis was later asked what his thoughts were about “a chief who steals from his own people.”
“I’m not his judge. He has to answer to his people, not to me,” was Semaganis’s response. When asked if a chief should ever steal from his own people, Semaganis responded “no.”