Former minor hockey exec denies fraud

TONY SPEARS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:43 AM ET

OTTAWA - A former minor hockey executive pleaded not guilty Tuesday to defrauding his association of thousands of dollars from 2004 until 2006.

David Lawrence Barker, 56, faces a dozen charges relating to his time as president of the Leitrim Minor Hockey Association.

When a committee of past presidents examined financial records, they discovered that almost $160,000 couldn't be accounted for, the court heard.

In his opening statement, Crown prosecutor Julien Lalande alleged Barker wrote cheques from association accounts to personal accounts.

Barker also transferred money to a hockey team he coached, Lalande said.

In a list of admissions filed at the beginning of the trial, Barker acknowledged improperly using association money to fund a bus trip for a soccer team he was involved with.

Jeff Steele, then-president of the umbrella-group Gloucester Hockey Association, told the court he and his treasurer had tried to collect on $72,000 the Leitrim association owed for ice time.

For months they were stymied by Barker and his "pattern of excuses," he said.

When they finally got a cheque, Steele tried to certify it -- but the account balance was just $80.

Steele immediately suspended Barker.

Defence lawyer Catherine Huot asked Steele why he hadn't suspended Leitrim treasurer Tracey Bender as well.

There was a long pause.

"Other than what I will call neglect on her part, I didn't see her doing anything wrong," Steele said. "She was more of a victim."

Bender came up again in the cross-examination of Barker's vice-president, Denis Dodd.

Dodd went to Bender's home to help trawl through association bank statements, which were mailed directly to Bender.

Some were in unopened envelopes.

"And you were not surprised, sir, that there were unopened bank statements in her home?" Huot asked.

Former Leitrim president Gerry Doyle twisted the knife, saying he thought Barker should have insisted on a treasurer with qualifications or experience.

A glimmer of a defence emerged from questions about reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses.

Doyle denied ever receiving association cheques.

"If I took someone out for a beer it was on my own coin," he said.

That was Huot's cue to produce an association cheque cut to Doyle for a lunch meeting.

And then another cheque reimbursing him for a $50 tip to bar staff at the association's year-end party.

His testimony continues Thursday.


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