Embezzlement case will be heard by judge alone

Pair allegedly stole the money from elementary school’s Parent Advisory Council

The former chair of Discovery Passage school’s Parent Advisory Council and her husband, who are both charged with embezzling funds raised for the school, made their first court appearance Monday.

Jessica Taylor, 35, and husband Neil Taylor, 35, stood before Justice of the Peace Christine Ballman as Neil’s defence lawyer, James Hormoth, and Brian Dybwad (agent for Doug Marion, Jessica’s defence lawyer) said they had elected to go to trial before a judge alone.

Dybwad said Marion “estimates four days (for the trial) – three days for a preliminary inquiry.”

The Taylors are expected back in court on Monday.

Both Jessica and Neil have plead not guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 and one count of theft over $5,000. The pair allegedly stole the money from the small elementary school’s Parent Advisory Council between Dec. 1, 2010 and Jan. 31, 2012.

During that time, Jessica served as the chair for part of the 2011/12 school year and as treasurer in 2011, while Neil filled the role of treasurer in 2011-12.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Troy Beauregard said police received a complaint from the Parent Advisory Council last January, and after a lengthy investigation, the Taylors were charged on Nov. 9 with one count each of theft and fraud.

Jessica was the driving force behind a campaign to raise money for the school to fund a new playground throughout 2011 and the early part of 2012.

She was concerned after the school district tore down the old wooden climber that the students would have nothing to play on, particularly the influx of young students who were about to start all-day kindergarten that fall.

The Mirror covered Jessica’s – and the rest of the Parent Advisory Council’s – rigourous fundraising efforts over a span of a year and a half.

Over that time, the parent group raised about $8,000 through a fun fair, magazine sales, a student’s pledges collected for completing the Great Walk from Tahsis to Gold River, plus a $10,000 reimbursement grant from the province to cover an addition added to the original playground.

The school finally did get its playground after Jessica was no longer on the Parent Advisory Council, thanks to a $50,000 provincial grant it received in June 2012.