January 19th, 2021

ARCHES will not face charges


By Herald on December 22, 2020.

Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh and Inspector Pete Christos speak with reporters Tuesday as the Lethbridge Police Service has concluded their investigation regarding ARCHES. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com
The Lethbridge Police Service will not be laying charges against ARCHES after its forensic investigation of the former supervised consumption site operator accounted for $1.5 million in provincial funding dollars previously unaccounted for in the July audit of the organization.
Chief of Police Shahin Mehdizadeh told reporters on Tuesday with the money now accounted for there was no basis to lay any charges at this time.
“The Alberta Specialized Prosecution Branch supported the findings of the Lethbridge police investigation,” Mehdizadeh read out in a prepared statement, “and determined it would not recommend criminal charges as there wasn’t a likelihood of conviction, and prosecution would not be in the public interest.”
Mehdizadeh said the decision not to lay criminal charges comes after a “lengthy” and “comprehensive” investigation.
“The Lethbridge Police Service was able to uncover the records which account for funding in question,” he continued. “The findings have been shared with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, which concludes the involvement of the Lethbridge Police Service in the matter.”
A report by accounting firm Deloitte commissioned by the province said $13,000 had been used for parties, staff retreats and gift cards, and thousands more was spent on travel, including $4,300 for a manager to attend a conference in Portugal.
It also said $1.6 million was unaccounted for at the non-profit organization which oversaw the supervised consumption site.
Acting Inspector Pete Christos of the LPS Criminal Investigation Division added a few more details to Mehdizadeh’s statement.
Christos said the LPS investigation was able to access financial records which were not available to auditors at the time when they initially raised concerns about the $1.5 million in missing funds.
“It was initially thought there was an inappropriate use of funds which were misallocated,” he said, “but through our investigation we found that, in fact, those funds were located.”
ARCHES had the money in different accounts the auditors did not have access to in their investigation, Christos later clarified, but once staff of the former supervised consumption site sat down with LPS investigators they were able to fully account for the provincial money.
“These were official ARCHES accounts,” he confirmed, but did not want to comment when asked by reporters about the alleged disorganized accounting processes identified by the auditors at the former SCS.
“I don’t feel it is my position to comment on their practices,” he stated, “however; through our investigation, I can tell you all money has been accounted for.”
The province says it still has concerns and won’t be restoring funding.
Kassandra Kitz, press secretary for the ministry’s associate minister, Jason Luan, said the government doesn’t yet have the police report.
She added the Deloitte audit found poor organizational management and several instances of non-compliance with a grant agreement, “including high executive salaries, significant abuse of taxpayer dollars, European conferences, and staff entertainment.”
Premier Jason Kenney said the government has no intention of restoring funding to ARCHES.
In addition to serious questions about its operations and staff salaries, some Lethbridge residents have talked about damage the centre has caused to the community, Kenney said.
“We think that management lost public confidence and certainly the confidence of government.”
A quarterly surveillance report from Alberta Health showed a monthly average of 439 clients made more than 60,000 visits to the Lethbridge site in the first three months of this year.
A report commissioned by the Alberta government released last March suggested supervised drug consumption sites have sown chaos in communities, overplayed their life-saving effects and lacked accountability.
— With files from The Canadian Press
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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Fescue

All funds accounted for; no criminal charges … interesting.

Citi Zen

This was clearly criminal activity. Doesn’t the taxpayer have the right to know who was responsible, and see charges laid? Sounds like someone dropped the ball on this investigation.

Fescue

Sounds more like a defamation lawsuit waiting to happen.

Dennis Bremner

I would hardly doubt that. For starters, it was not the fault of the Audit team that the ARCHES group was unable to present an account at the time of audit that obviously contained the $1.5million or the audit trail for it.
It reinforces the theory of sloppy books when you cannot “find” $1.5
Secondly, it does not relieve this group of their “Numbers Game”.
The inconvenient truth is, just as the report indicates. Exaggeration of Lives Saved, acted as if they were the big player on the block and ignored the communities wishes.
Lastly, the “busiest SCS in the world” somehow became one of the tiniest and the death count from such a “disaster” is down from when the SCS was operating? Which somehow does not fit the pending disaster everyone that supported it, pronounced?
This supports the generally known but always denied fact that SCSs are enablers, and create experimentation, raising the chance of death by those users by many fold.
Lastly, we will see much the same sort of fiasco unfold as the Mustard Seed takes its place in this community. It also operates as if it is “above the community, looking down upon the taxpayer” because it also does “God’s work” which is surely above mere taxpayers?
Mustard Seed wants to fit in the community and listen to the complaints for as long as it fits their solution. So once the “patrol boots the laggards off the Ramada Property you will get the “like were supposed to be responsible for everyone else’s property too”?? Attitude.
The Council wants housing and is looking at Mustard Seed as a way out of the dilemma. They have no interest in working with Mustard Seed, they will subjugate and work for them. Instead of saying good idea, wrong place, lets try to find a place downtown, and keep the entire system centralized, they will just pretend they actually thought this through, and have no option. Spearman will once again standup and make another statement pretending he knows what he is talking about and if questioned, will respond this time with ” what, you would have people freeze to death”? instead of “we’re savin lives here”!

Southern Albertan

What….is there no trust for the Lethbridge city police, the Alberta Justice Specialized Prosecutions branch and UCP government officials?

grinandbearit

All public funds accounted for! Sounds like there should be some consequences for the people in government who orchestrated and approved this audit-based hit on the SCS.

Last edited 27 days ago by grinandbearit
UncleBuck

The people opposed to the SCS made up numbers and stats and shared their stories amongst one another building up a boogy man without knowing what was actually going on.
I love seeing this thrown in their face.
Love it.

Seth Anthony

Made up what numbers? Unless I missed something, the only made up numbers that I’ve seen is arches claiming 600 to 700 visits a day.

In regards to “throwing it in their face”:

Most that opposed the scs, were not opposing the concept in of itself, but rather how it was being run. Their goal was to stop arches from running the scs, and that goal was achieved. Note that no one is complaining about the new scs run by AHS.

h2ofield

Where’s the anti-SCS bunch now? (crickets)

Fescue

Maybe Santa will bring them a new dogwhistle for their stocking (along with a lump of coal)

Dennis Bremner

Well I am still here and you can see, that the SCS gone, did not end in the disaster you PRO SCSers were calling for…….(crickets)

Fescue

Thank goodness The Tent and the two fellows in the drug camper stepped up to care for the vulnerable.

h2ofield

Nor did it end “gunfights in every corner of town” and every other stupid prediction you were making this time last year. Your crystal ball sucks and is still useless.



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