President of the Peterborough farmer’s market pled guilty to fraud in 2014

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One of the seven vendors facing expulsion from the Peterborough Saturday farmers market says he’s concerned about an apparent discrepancy in the market’s balance sheet – particularly since the president of the market has a previous fraud conviction.

Marshall Eckler, a chef at the market, is one of the seven local farmers and artisans who may be ousted at a meeting on Jan. 8 following allegations of inappropriate behaviour made by other vendors.

The seven vendors have all either asked the board of directors why nearly $22,000 is unaccounted for on the market’s balance sheet between 2015 and 2016, or they’ve asked that the financial books be audited.

No audit report or explanation for the discrepancy was ever supplied, Eckler says.

Cindy Hope, president of the Peterborough Saturday farmers market, once worked as the administrator of a Port Hope nursing home, and The Examiner reported in 2004 that she pleaded guilty to defrauding the residence and its seniors of $22,000.

Eckler says he’s baffled that Hope was ever elected president, as directors must pass a police check.

“I am very curious how a person convicted of fraud over $5,000 managed to clear a CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre criminal record check) and has signing privileges (over the market’s accounts) – and when asked about missing money, has stonewalled the membership,” he said.

Hope declined to comment on the issue.

The Examiner has received letters written by vendors asking about the allegedly missing money, as well as court papers and other documents pertaining to the criminal history of the farmer’s market board president.

While some of the documents were received this week, others have been collected by The Examiner over several months. One document spells out the board’s decision in 2015 to require criminal background checks for all members. Hope was listed as a vice-president in 2016.

Cinthia “Cindy” Hope, 49, has been operating CrossWind Farm in Keene with her husband Kevin Hope since 2007. They sell products such as cheese made from goat’s milk, and they won a provincial award for food innovation in 2012.

Read the full story over at the Peterborough Examiner.

This story was summarized by Canadian Fraud News Inc.