Police say an Ontario woman who helped organize a county fair to raise money for children is now facing fraud charges related to the event.
Halton Regional Police say the charges relate to the Forget Me Not Family Fun Fair, an event held in 2013 and 2014 in Milton, Ont.
Event advertising show the fair was initially organized in memory of a local child who died after being left unattended in an overheated car, with proceeds going to the bereaved family.
Halton Police fraud unit Det. Const. Ed Spence says the family later declined the money and requested that it be redirected to unspecified children’s charities.
In 2018, however, Spence says concerns arose about one of the fair organizers and police allege that at least one of the charities never received the promised funds.
‘This was a big deal for Milton’
A 38-year-old woman has been charged with one count each of fraud over $5,000, fraud under $5,000 and theft under $5,000.
She could not immediately be reached for comment.
Spence said the accused was active and well-known in the community, largely for charitable efforts.
He said news of her arrest on Wednesday has come as a shock.
“This was a big deal for Milton, so it’s a very sad state of affairs,” Spence said in a telephone interview. “It’s a great shame, and people are very upset about it.”
Boy found dead in back seat of car
The fun fair was organized as a show of support for the family of Maximus Huyskens, who died in June 2013 a month shy of his second birthday.
An agreed statement of fact presented to a local court months later spelled out the circumstances surrounding his death.
The boy’s grandmother had picked him up and was slated to drive Maximus to daycare, but forgot to do so and drove back to her own home instead, according to the agreed facts.
The woman then fell asleep, tired from working the previous night.
Meanwhile outside temperatures climbed to 30 C while Maximus remained buckled into his car seat.
Around 5 p.m. the grandmother went to pick up Maximus at daycare, only to be told he had never arrived.
She returned to her car and discovered her grandson dead in the back seat.
Months later the grandmother pleaded guilty to one count of failing to provide the necessities of life and handed a suspended sentence at the request of both Crown and defence lawyers.
Thousands of dollars raised for family
Spence said the accused and other organizers arranged the Forget Me Not fair to raise money for the Huyskens family.
The event page indicates they secured support from organizations such as Mattamy Homes and St. John’s Ambulance.
Spence said in the two years the fair operated it raised thousands of dollars and attracted hundreds of visitors.
The woman worked with other people to organize the fair in 2013 and was solely in charge the following year, Spence said, adding the fair did not operate beyond 2014.
Spence said the accused’s co-organizers were not aware of her alleged activities and are not under suspicion themselves.
The woman is scheduled to appear in court next month.