The case

Fraud charges against trustee
undermine trust in the HCDSB

TORONTO – If parents and rate payers are confused about what is happening behind the scenes at the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB), then they are not alone. Readers continue to call and write in to voice their concerns over issues which have transpired in relation to Board matters which have been covered in previous editions.

One main theme, they call into question the legitimacy of the Board, its members and their ability to manage Board business effectively. Evidently, the latter is something the Board itself questions given the investigation into conduct at Board meetings.

The 36-page report, prepared by Barry Bresner of ADR Chambers Inc., a company specializing in mediation and conflict resolution services, cited examples of “factionalism” and “dysfunction”. The cost of such an investigation, which included the review of about 50 hours of Board meetings from December 1, 2020-June 29, 2021, was pegged at more than $24,000. The HCDSB has not disclosed the full cost of the report, nor have they divulged whether they followed a formal request for proposal prior to the investigation.

It is expected that Trustees conduct themselves in a manner that enhances confidence in publicly funded Catholic education system. That confidence may be called into question following the recent discovery that one trustee is facing multiple fraud charges.

According to documents obtained through the Ministry of the Attorney General, Nancy Guzzo (in the pic above), an Oakville Trustee with the HCDSB was charged earlier this year (January 21), with twelve counts of fraud. The charges relate to her previous employment with the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) and include ten counts of fraud under $5,000 and two counts of fraud over $5,000.

The charges allege she “unlawfully by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, defraud LiUNA Local 3000 of money”, and indicate a series of dates between February 2017 and June 2018. According to Guzzo’s LinkedIn profile, which is no longer accessible to the public, she was Assistant Business Manager with LiUNA 3000 between March 2018 and April 2019. Prior to that, she indicated she was the Secretary-Treasurer then Business Manager with LiUNA Local 1110.

Multiple attempts to contact Guzzo and the HCDSB for clarification regarding the appropriateness of her participation in Board business have gone unanswered. November 16 will mark the eighth date this case presents before the courts in Hamilton.

It is unclear why it took so long for the Hamilton Police to press these charges and our questions to the president of LiUNA 3000 have also gone unanswered.

However, LiUNA’s Ontario Director of Public Relations, Victoria Mancinelli, said via email: “We take any and all allegations of impropriety filed against Mrs. Guzzo of highest concern. This remains an active criminal case before the court and therefore will not be commenting further.” LiUNA officials caused the charges to be laid.

The HCDSB refuses to answer about the timing when they were made aware of the charges against Ms. Guzzo and whether her continued participation in Board matters is appropriate as her lawyers defend against these charges in court. Trustees should be accountable to the constituents they serve. When there is a lack of transparency and trust, it calls into question the confidence vested in the Board to do its job effectively.

Meanwhile, in what must be an ironic twist, it appears that some of the defensive manoeuvring may involve an organized group of electors using social media to allege [religious] “discrimination” on the part of the Catholic Board.

P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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