CNIB faces legal challenge by ex-kiosk operator accused of mishandling money

CNIB, the national registered charity for the visually impaired, is again facing a legal fight with a former lottery kiosk operator who says he’s been wrongly terminated and accused of mismanaging funds.

Mike Perry is one of at least seven former kiosk operators to be targeted in connection with funds that have allegedly gone missing, but he said he’s been told the non-profit organization is writing off the shortfall.

More than $100,000 in the last two years has allegedly gone missing in the Maritimes, which prompted CNIB to sue several kiosk operators. CNIB, established nearly a century ago, operates lottery booths in stores across Atlantic Canada where it sells Atlantic Lottery Corp. products. The charity hires subcontractors to operate the booths as part of an arrangement with the lottery corporation.

In the previous cases, after a CBC investigation uncovered the lawsuits, CNIB withdrew court actions and reached confidential agreements with those who ran booths where money allegedly disappeared.

‘I got shafted’
Perry, a Berwick resident, operated the kiosk at the New Minas Walmart from March 2010 until Feb. 9, 2017, at which time he was told more than $9,000 was missing and was dismissed on the spot.

“I got shafted and I’m being made to look bad,” said Perry. “I would like an apology. I didn’t do anything. My wife didn’t do anything. [The woman who I hired] didn’t do anything.”

As Perry did research about the charity, he found previous CBC News stories about other operators who went through similar situations. “It was like déjà vu,” said Perry.

Perry’s lawyer, Laura Veniot, said she plans to file a lawsuit today in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. A CNIB spokesperson told CBC News in an email that it can’t comment on the matter because it doesn’t have a copy of the legal filing.

No proof of missing funds
Like the other operators, Perry was hired by CNIB Atlantic retail gaming manager Paul McCarthy, who left the organization on Jan. 8, 2014. Perry said CNIB’s national director of social gaming, Steve Kirkland, was also part of the interview process.
Perry said McCarthy told him in September 2010 that the booth wasn’t making enough money. He said the charity subsequently withheld $6,000 of his income to make up for it.

In January 2016, Perry said he was informed he was more than $5,000 short. He said he was told CNIB would withhold $2,700 in bonuses and that the charity would make up most of the rest of the shortfall.

Loss to be written off
Perry said he refused to sign a new contract that October that would have greatly reduced the amount of commissions he would receive for selling winning tickets.

“And then all of sudden, the shortage started going up,” said Perry.

As in previous cases, Perry said no explanation was provided of how the amount of missing money was calculated.

When he was fired in February, CNIB said the amount missing was over $9,000, but Perry said he was assured by the charity’s regional manager that he wouldn’t be held responsible and that the loss was going to be written off.

“Anyplace I’ve ever worked, if you had that kind of a shortage, somebody would be saying, ‘Where is it?'” said Perry.

A familiar story
He believes there’s no missing money, but rather a problem somewhere in CNIB’s paperwork and accounting system.

Veniot, who also represented three previous kiosk owners, said she was struck by how similar Perry’s story was with the others.

“You’d think after everything that’s happened, after all the kiosk owners that they’ve sued in the past, that this might have been a red flag for the CNIB to think that maybe there’s a bigger problem going on and that’s it’s not the fault of the individual kiosk owners,” said Veniot.

Perry doesn’t know how much of his pay and bonuses have been withheld during the time he worked for the charity.

Veniot said the lawsuit will seek general damages.
The statement of claim alleges termination without cause, breach of contract, public humiliation, significant financial and emotional damage, severe mental stress, and loss of reputation and prestige within the community.

The allegations haven’t been tested in court.

Click here to see original article written by Yvonne Colbert of CBC News.

March 22, 2017