Man accused of stealing money from Indigenous youth set to enter plea in B.C. Provincial Court

·1 min read

Robert Riley Saunders’ next court appearance has been adjourned to Feb. 11 where he is expected to enter a plea and choose which court he’d like to be tried in — Provincial Court or Supreme Court.

Saunders is alleged to have stolen basic living allowances from more than 100 — mostly Indigenous — youth while he was employed by B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development as a social worker in Kelowna between 1996 and 2018.

He’s facing 13 criminal charges, including ten counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000, one count of breach of trust, and one count of uttering a forged document.

According to documents disclosed in a separate legal matter, which was settled in October 2020, Saunders allegedly faked credentials on his résumé in order to get hired by MCFD as a social worker.

Saunders was released on bail on Dec. 18 by B.C. Provincial Court judge Monica McParland.

A lawyer acting on his behalf participated at Jan. 25 hearing via video conference. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, members of the public and media aren’t able to observe the hearing from inside an actual courtroom. Instead, people can attend virtual proceedings remotely via MS teams.

Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse