Toronto Star

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says people have the right to know if Giuseppe (Joe) Crupi defrauded other Indigenous communities of federal funds.
Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says First Nations communities have the right to know if other Indigenous communities have been defrauded by Giuseppe (Joe) Crupi.

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says First Nations communities have the right to know if other Indigenous communities have been defrauded by Giuseppe (Joe) Crupi.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS File Photo)  

Indigenous leaders say they need to be reassured that a government appointee who stole $1.2 million from a children’s nutrition program in the northern Ontario Kashechewan Cree community isn’t cheating other communities.

“We have a right to know that,” Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation said after the Assembly of First Nations discussed the case of Giuseppe (Joe) Crupi, former co-manager for the Kashechewan First Nation near James Bay in Northern Ontario.

Crupi, who lives in Thunder Bay, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of fraud over $5,000 for stealing federal funding earmarked for children’s breakfast programs in Kashechewan between 2007 and 2012.

Crupi still faces other charges related to his handling of money meant for the Indigenous community between 2007 and 2012, including uttering forged documents, laundering the proceeds of crime and possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.

Fiddler made his comments in an interview after the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly passed a motion in Ottawa calling on the federal government to develop an oversight mechanism to monitor and act upon suspected cases of fraud by managers like Crupi.

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Fiddler noted that Crupi was appointed by the federal government, not the Cree community. Fiddler said he has heard troubling reports that Crupi may also have had control of funding at other First Nations reserves.

First Nations communities have a right to know how Crupi got his appointments and exactly where he has worked, Fiddler said.

“We want to ensure that there is transparency on the part of the government,” he added.

Fiddler said the band had no say in the appointment of Crupi and now they are being kept in the dark about the extent of his activities.

“It’s very disempowering, the current policy,” Fiddler said.

Crupi is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 12, 2018 for sentencing on the two counts.