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Accused denies stealing money

BY KEITH LACEY klacey@northernlife.

A former Sudbury salesman said he had nothing to do with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Rainbow District School Board over a three-year period and blamed a former school board employee who was given a one-year jail sentence last year after admitting his involvement.

After hearing from Stephen Fleming Thursday, Justice Guy Mahaffy said he needed time to consider his decision and a date will be set this Wednesday for Mahaffy to make his ruling.

Fleming testified he had no idea his good friend Allan Spisak was using his bank account and address to steal more than $300,000 from the school board through a series of false invoices and transactions between the fall of 2000 and spring of 2003.

Last year, Spisak pleaded guilty to fraud and received a 12-month jail sentence. Spisak was a former plant manager with the Rainbow District School Board at the time a forensic audit revealed more than $308,000 had gone missing.

Spisak received his jail sentence after admitting to stealing only about $100,000 of the missing money and told the court he and Fleming conspired and formulated a plan to steal the money from the school board.

Fleming has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges and said Spisak worked alone in stealing the money.

Fleming testified he allowed Spisak to use his bank account and debit card because Spisak, who he considered one of his best friends, was attempting to hide financial transactions from his wife.

Fleming testified his job as a travelling salesman had him on the road all the time and he was seldom at home in Sudbury when the money went missing.
Fleming denied any knowledge of anyone using his company name, he said.

When an invoice showed payment for hotel rooms across Northern Ontario, Fleming testified he couldn?t recall if he had stayed at the hotels mentioned and often didn?t recall other information suggested to him by assistant Crown attorney Andrew Slater.

Fleming, who now lives in the United States, will remain free on bail conditions, until Mahaffy makes his decision.