Former treasurer of a Hamilton-based choir pleads guilty to fraud

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The former volunteer treasurer of a Hamilton-based choir who bilked the group out of thousands has pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 and has agreed to slowly start paying them back.

MacKenzie Jenkyns was charged with with fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000, police announced in December 2018, following an investigation into “accounting irregularities.”

The Hamilton man had defrauded the Canadian Orpheus Male Choir of roughly $50,000 between January 2016 and October 2018, investigators alleged at the time.

Choir president Rod Roberts said “It pretty well cleaned us out.”

But, he said, the group has since received its first restitution payment, adding, “we’re happy about that.”

Jenkyns did not respond to emails seeking comment about his plea.

He also goes by the last name Kristjon, and has produced music in Hamilton under the moniker “This Mad Desire.”

Jenkyns lawyer, Jenn Steenbeek, who represented him at sentencing confirmed he had pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 in September 2021 and was sentenced on Feb. 28.

“As a result of some restitution being paid upfront, he received a lengthy conditional sentence order followed by a period of probation with terms for regular restitution payments,” she wrote.

Court documents outline that Jenkyns received a two-year custodial sentence and 15 months of probation.

It outlines that restitution will be made in the form of monthly $1,200 payments while behind bars and another $15,232.05 to be paid by the end of his probation.

Choir looking at starting back up

The choir sings everything from popular sings to spirituals in four-part harmony, said Roberts.

“We are known as ‘Men who love to sing,'” its website says.

Roberts said the average age of choir members is around 77. Their oldest member retired last year and is now 91.

“It’s very much a fellowship thing,” he said. “We look out for each other. We get concerned when people get sick.”

The group turned to GoFundMe and bingo fundraisers to keep going after they discovered they’d lost thousands. Members stepped up to financially support the group too, he added.

Now they have a “small bank balance” that’s allowed them to cover expenses including a practice space, accompanist and musical director.

Their activities were largely shutdown by the pandemic, but they’re looking at starting back up, said Roberts.

Still, losing so much from someone who had volunteered to help the choir was a big blow.

“The fact that we had money in the bank prior to this, was always a cushion,” he said. 

“If we had a bad year, it wasn’t a problem.”

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