A month before Christmas, Toronto police are investigating the alleged theft of toys worth $2 million from a Salvation Army warehouse. And police in Ottawa are looking into allegations that $240,000 has been defrauded or stolen from the charity.
The investigation into the missing toys has been turned over to the Toronto Police Service. It is alleged over $2 million in toys as well as food and donations have been stolen during the last two years from a Salvation Army warehouse located in northeast Toronto.
An internal audit was begun after a whistleblower, a Salvation Army employee, reported the alleged theft. Salvation Army Major John Murray is quoted in the Hamilton Spectator as saying, "At the root of it, it's about deception and about deceiving people and organizations and it would appear from everything I've seen and know about it, it was very sophisticated, it was intentional, well planned out."
CTV News reports David Rennie, the facility's executive director, was suspended from his job in September after the Salvation Army conducted an internal investigation. Rennie, who earned over $100,000 a year, was fired from his position on Monday.
On the same day that Rennie was fired, the Salvation Army also fired Percy Rowe, the executive director of the Salvation Army Booth Centre in Ottawa. The Ottawa Citizen reports Rowe was fired after an internal audit found $240,000 had gone missing from the centre during the last eight years. Like the Toronto incident, the internal audit was begun in October after a whistleblower informed the Salvation Army of the alleged fraud. The alleged fraud is being investigated by the Ottawa Police Service.
Friends and associates were shocked at the firing of Rowe who is a prominent advocate for the homeless in Ottawa.
Murray is reminding people that the Salvation Army, that has helped needy families in Canada for the past 130 years, is the victim. The major is quoted in the National Post as saying, "Sometimes people think they can prey on a charity, but I can tell you the Salvation Army will do due diligence to ensure that we get every nickel back and that every stone is unturned throughout these investigations."
The charity already does criminal background checks on its employees and volunteers.
No specific allegations have been made that Rennie or Rowe have committed criminal acts. Police in both Toronto and Ottawa are continuing their investigations.