The man who bilked the Thames Valley District School Board out of what was reported as $2,064,616 will serve two years behind bars.
David Ferguson pleaded guilty to fraud over $5000 and breach of trust after over-purchasing telecommunications equipment and then selling it privately. Two other charges had since been withdrawn.
The scheme went unnoticed by the school board for seven and a half years.
A compliance review found irregularities and TVDSB officials contacted London Police in August 2014.
An eight-month long investigation by police uncovered a “complex fraud,” for which Ferguson turned himself in.
Police say numerous transactions took place between January 2007 and August 2014, with items valued between $50 and $600.
An agreed upon statement of facts stated that the net loss to the school board is around $1-million, but is likely more.
Ferguson has paid $375,000 back in restitution, a mitigating factor in the judge’s sentencing decision.
TVDSB Director of Education Laura Elliott tells AM980 it was difficult to root out the scheme but their processes are sound.
“It’s unfortunate that when someone is committed to commit a fraudulent act it can remain hidden for some time,” she said. “We knew we are responsible stewards of public money and we’re confident that we have excellent systems and oversight procedures in place. Of course, we’re committed to continuous improvement, always looking at ways that we can improve our processes.”
Ferguson made a tearful apology to a London court room today before the judge handed down his decision, saying, “I am rather disgusted by my actions.”
His defence lawyer, Phil Millar, said that Ferguson was spending a lot of the money on “pleasure seekers,” and that the funds were used for extra-curricular activities with younger women.
When the judge asked why this happened, Ferguson responded due to greed and materialism, and that the money went to things that promoted infidelities to his marriage.
The judge credited the former telecommunications specialist for his restitution and early accountability as mitigating factors in his decision, but noted that the serious breach of trust cannot be minimized.
To go along with the two year prison sentence, Ferguson will be on probation for three years and must perform 100 hours of community service.
The school board had said it would take every legal step to try to get back all of the money that was stolen. As a result, a civil suit against Ferguson is still making its way through the court.
With files from Jess Brady.