No criminal charges will be laid in the Richmond County expense scandal which revealed, according to Nova Scotia’s ombudsman, a “culture of entitlement” as well as systemic abuse of municipal funds.
In a letter to Richmond County council released Thursday, the RCMP said “the likelihood of obtaining a criminal conviction is extremely low.”
The Mounties came to that conclusion after reviewing a forensic audit by Grant Thorton, a report from the provincial ombudsman and a report from the legal firm of Boyne Clarke, as well as receipts and other financial documents supplied by the municipality.
They began an investigation in October, days after the damning ombudsman’s report was released.
The report showed the former county warden, Steve Sampson, and then-chief administrative officer Warren Olsen spent tens of thousands of dollars inappropriately. The report shows public money was spent on Valentine’s Day flowers, alcohol and $582 was spent by the CAO during two evenings at Houston adult entertainment clubs.
When county financial staff questioned the expenses — often filed without detailed receipts or justification — they were told to “just pay it,” the report stated.
Sampson, who also sat as a municipal councillor after leaving his position as warden, did not run for re-election last fall and Olsen resigned in October.
In the letter to Richmond County council, RCMP said officers consulted with a Crown attorney before making a decision that the information it obtained did not “meet the threshold of criminal behaviour” and a criminal investigation “is not warranted in these circumstances.”
The file is now closed and “no further actions are anticipated,” it said.