Robert Riley Saunders faced 13 charges stemming from a three-year investigation by RCMP that included 10 charges of fraud over $ 5,000
KELOWNA – A former British Columbia social worker accused of stealing money from foster children in his care pleaded guilty in Kelowna court.
The BC Public Prosecution Service says Robert Riley Saunders pleaded guilty to fraud of more than $ 5,000, breach of trust in connection with his duties as a child protection worker, and caused the province to act on a forged document.
Saunders faced 13 charges stemming from a three-year investigation by RCMP that included 10 counts of fraud over $ 5,000.
Dan McLaughlin, communications attorney for the prosecution, says they anticipate pending charges will be dropped once their sentencing hearing scheduled for March 21 is complete.
The British Columbia Supreme Court approved a settlement last year in a class action lawsuit brought against Saunders and the provincial government over more than 100 children who claimed the social worker robbed them.
Several lawsuits were filed prior to the settlement, alleging that Saunders had moved the children from stable homes to make them eligible for financial benefits from the ministry.
The claim statements allege that Saunders took the funds deposited into their accounts, leaving them homeless and vulnerable to addiction and physical and sexual abuse.
The settlement notice said each member would receive a base payment of $ 25,000 and those who are indigenous would receive an additional $ 44,000.
More damages could be paid to those who experienced homelessness, psychological harm, sexual exploitation or injury, or whose education was delayed, according to the settlement.
Both Saunders and the ministry were named as defendants in the lawsuits, but the former social worker never filed a response.
The British Columbia government was not immediately available to comment on the guilty plea, but said in a statement in a settlement agreement filed last July that Saunders harmed children in the director’s care and that the province was “indirectly responsible. for damage caused “by man. .