A Cambridge man who came as a refugee to Canada, was helped by Reception House Waterloo Region and later hired as its director of finance, was sentenced to five months in jail for defrauding the agency.
Samuel Kay-Lukoji, 46, was sentenced to five months in jail and three years’ probation by Justice Melanie Sopinka in a Kitchener courtroom Monday.
Sopinka described the $83,000 fraud as a “sophisticated scheme” and a “significant breach of trust” against the agency that helps government-sponsored refugees in Waterloo Region.
Not only was there harm to the Kitchener-based non-profit organization s reputation, but “vulnerable people were victimized by the fraudulent actions,” she said.
Kay-Lukoji earlier pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000.
Kay-Lukoji’s lawyer Ben Jefferies described the sentence as a fair one.
There is sufficient case law for both a jail sentence or a conditional sentence in similar fraud cases, Jefferies said in an interview after the sentencing.
The defence had sought a sentence of eight months of house arrest, while the prosecution had asked for a six-month jail sentence.
Jefferies said there were mitigating factors in favour of his client, who fully repaid the amount taken — $83, 210.10. Kay-Lukoji also pleaded guilty to the charge and is the sole breadwinner for his wife and two teenage children.
Kay-Lukoji was running his own online business from his home.
“He owned up to what he had done. He did everything right in trying to make it whole,” Jefferies said.
Kay-Lukoji came to Canada from Congo in 2011, seeking asylum here after “blowing the whistle on a large corporate fraud” in Congo.
Kay-Lukoji was hired by in 2015 and became the director of finance for the agency that is the first point of contact for refugees arriving in the region.
Reception House helps refugees find housing and offers a variety of programs and services to help them become part of Canadian society.
It receives funding from the federal government and private donations.
The fraud started when Kay-Lukoji, who has a degree in accounting, was hired and continued until the crime was uncovered in 2019. Charges against a co-accused employee were withdrawn on Monday.
Court was told that Kay-Lukoji had a gambling addiction, spending up to $2,000 a week on lottery scratch tickets.
Kay-Lukoji opened fraudulent accounts and falsified loans in a complex scheme. He also set up a company called Budd Bed and Accessories.
The name of the business was similar to a legitimate business that had existed in downtown Kitchener and one that had been used by Reception House. The agency made $14,400 in payments to Kay-Lukoji’s company.
The chair of Reception House’s board of directors told the court that the organization had suffered a financial loss as well as a “reputational blight” in having to explain to the government and its donors how a director of finance had defrauded it.
This article was originally sourced by www.therecord.com.