Richmond Hill councillor charged with fraud after more than $20K paid to spouse

Richmond Hill councillor charged with fraud after more than $20K paid to spouse-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Coun. Karen Cilevitz, who represents Richmond Hill’s Ward 5, has been charged with fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust by public officer after an investigation found that more than $21,000 was paid to her spouse over a ten-month period, York police allege. (Grant Linton/CBC )

A Richmond Hill councillor has been charged with fraud after an investigation revealed that she hired a new employee and arranged for them to give a portion of their pay to her spouse, York Regional Police allege.

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In a news release issued Tuesday, police said more than $21,000 was paid to the spouse of Coun. Karen Cilevitz over ten months, ranging from August 2019 to May 2020.

York police Const. Andy Pattenden said the new employee was assisting Cilevitz and was being paid by the City of Richmond Hill.

Cilevitz, who represents Richmond Hill’s Ward 5, was arrested Tuesday and has been charged with fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust by a public officer.

Her spouse, Derek Christie, 59, was also arrested on Tuesday. He has been charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of proceeds of crime.

Councillor to retain her seat until legal outcome determined

Pattenden said the fraud investigation started in July and is ongoing, adding that the city is cooperating and likely conducting its own investigation

“Investigators are appealing to anyone who may have information on this particular case,” Pattenden told CBC Toronto.

“Or if anyone else has been involved with any other dealings with the councillor or her spouse Derek Christie that may have an element in criminality to them — we are asking those people to come forward.”

In a statement issued later Tuesday, Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow said the councillor is permitted to retain her seat until the legal system determines the outcome of this case.

“I want to reaffirm to residents that city council is committed to serving the public good and we will continue to stay focused on helping our community emerge strong from the pandemic,” the statement reads in part.

Cilevitz docked 90 days pay in 2018 after bullying complaint

This isn’t the first time the Richmond Hill councillor has found herself in hot water with the city.

These latest allegations come less than two years after Cilevitz was docked 90 days pay after an investigation by the town’s integrity commissioner found she had violated the part of the council’s code of conduct that forbids bullying and intimidation.

In her report, then Richmond Hill integrity commissioner Deborah Anschell detailed a lengthy back-and-forth between Cilevitz and the complainant, Steffi Goodfield, in part over the use of the term “Ward 5” in an open mic event co-run by Goodfield called the Ward 5 jam.

The CBC first reported on the issue in May, 2018, when it came to light that Cilevitz had left Goodfield an angry voicemail and several messages warning that only she was entitled to use the term “Ward 5.”

Ultimately, Anschell found Cilevitz’s communications were “bullying in tone and intended to intimidate.”

 Anyone with information is urged to call the York Regional Police Financial Crimes Unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6612 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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