Karen Querat, also known as Karen Bedard, was arrested on November 20th, 2013 and pleaded guilty on August 8th, 2014 to charges of fraud over $5,000 – $129,927.74 to be exact. Querat, the former bookkeeper for Blind River’s Anishnabie Naadmaggi Gamig Substance Abuse Treatment Centre (ANGSAT), nicked 20,000 bucks from the centre between August 2012 and January 2013. The remaining $110,000 in misappropriated funds was embezzled after meeting her boyfriend, OPP Constable, Glenn McLean, on January 29th, 2013.
For ten months the couple lived it up attending myriad rock concerts, a couple of trips to Jamaica and Las Vegas, and splurging on grown-up toys that included a 4-wheeler, a new car, canoe and firearms –two pink camo shot guns for her please! The hot dough was also applied to household bills, shopping sprees and the small luxuries in life –like the better bottle of wine.
Querat acknowledged the fraud and was sentenced to two years house arrest, 100 hours of community service and has been ordered to repay $117,000 to the coffers. Querat received 3 years probation and is not allowed to be in a position of employment where she would be handling money. For accepting the guilty plea, the OPP dropped assault charges brought against Querat by her former love interest, Constable McLean.
But Querat isn’t going down alone if she has anything to do about it. Initially answering to assault charges brought against her by McLean, Querat decided to spill the beans while being interrogated by the police. In her witness statement to OPP Sergeant, Teryl Karioja, Querat implicated McLean in the ANGSAT fraud scandal.
On October 13th, 2015, McLean appeared before Superior Justice Michael Varpio, at the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse where he pleaded not guilty to 26 charges that ranged from stealing office supplies- an intoxilyzer and 33 liters of gas, to assault and threatening assault on Querat, to pointing a firearm, to fraud and theft from ANGSAT.
Querat was the first witness on the stand October 13th – 16th, 2015 and October 19th – 21st, 2015. She was questioned by Timmins Crown Attorney, Wayne O’Hanley and in cross examination with Bruce Willson, counsel for the defence, for a total of seven days. Querat will return to the witness stand on March 21st, 2016, when McLean’s trial resumes.
There is heightened media sensitivity when dealing with cases of alleged domestic abuse. Most readers are likely familiar with the re-victimization of the victim –often a woman, in cases of physical and sexual abuse. The victim is too often put on trial. The allegations of abuse flow both ways with McLean and Querat both claiming to be the victims of assault by the other party. Aside from a lot of hearsay, so far, seven days of testimony has provided two broken noses- twice McLean’s conk, and a face full of scratches for Querat.
Back to Querat’s witness statement to Sergeant Karioja -Querat professed to have confided to McLean that she had been writing herself extra cheques at work.
In her statement to Karioja, Querat describes a scenario, as she remembered it, between herself and Glenn. In her retelling of the situation, Querat recounts the recent death of her father and how “he always wanted to go to the Caribbean”. Of her conversation with Glenn, Querat recalled to Karioja, “I said I’m going to the Caribbean. I remember the minute, Glenn sitting. He was in uniform in the afternoon and he sits down. He goes, are you going to bring me? And I went, ah, – he goes –and by then he had already told me he was broke. He’s like, I left my marriage. He told me his story of- as he sees it about leaving his marriage and he said, you know, I just bought this house. I’m just surviving with- I’m letting you know right now I got no money. I said, no problem, I’m not after money. I’m living on my own. I finally got on my own. I’m on my own two feet. I had a good job, you know, got a little bit of stuff from the divorce. I knew my dad had some life insurance that I would be getting later, getting later on, possibly. We weren’t too sure about any of that, but I was doing good on my own.”
Querat alleged that McLean: knew that she was pilfering money from ANGSAT; saw an opportunity to further exploit her position at work; physically intimidated her to continue stealing from ANGSAT to the point she felt her life could be in peril if she refused; and threatened if she stopped embezzling money from ANGSAT he would report her fraudulent behaviour to authorities. Querat alleged that McLean stated that because he was an officer, he would be given the benefit of the doubt, and Querat would be discredited owing to her use of methadone to manage pain.
Querat further alleged that McLean came up with a cover story- Querat would deflect suspicion by telling people at work and friends that all the trips, toys, concerts and other luxuries were in thanks to money that came to Querat after her father died.
During the last day of trial, October 21st, 2015, Querat’s story begins to unravel. But first, let’s take a closer look at what fraud is and who commits it.
White collar crime is non-violent crime that is committed by someone, typically for financial gain. The typical white-collar criminal is an office worker, business manager, fund manager or executive. Fraud is defined as involving intentional acts and as perpetrated by the individual using deception, trickery, and cunning that can be broadly classified as comprising two types of misrepresentations: suggestion of falsehood and suppression of truth.
A 1979 paper entitled Social Change and Crime Rate Trends: A Routine Activity Approach, published by American Sociological Review and prepared by Cohen and Felson, indicates that “white collar crime like other crime, can best be explained by three factors: a supply of motivated offenders, the availability of suitable targets, and the absence of capable guardians –control systems or someone ‘to mind the store’ so to speak.
In a chapter from his book, Dishonest Dollars: The Dynamics of White- Collar Crime, Terry Leap addresses potential underlying disorders that could influence an individual towards crime. “Popular belief holds that most criminals, including white- collar offenders, have some sort of personality disorder that drives them to embezzle, cheat on their expense accounts, misrepresent their organization’s financial condition, engage in insider trading…Few white collar criminals are diagnosed with full-fledged personality disorders. However, there are two disorders that psychologists and other experts believe can explain the behavior of some fraudsters” –antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.
In a heated exchange with Mr. Willson regarding his “outrageous speculation” that Ms. Querat was “mentally disturbed”, Mr. O’Hanley asserts with vigor, “That’s just a continuance of his layman’s diagnosis at counsel table yesterday, she’s got borderline personality disorder. She’s not mentally disturbed.”
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that causes unstable moods, behaviour and relationships. Most people who have BPD suffer from: problems regulating their emotions and thoughts; impulsive and sometimes reckless behaviour: and unstable relationships. Individuals with BPD also experience other personality disorders as well. Personality disorders that often co-occur with BPD are schizotypal personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. It is interesting to note that people with antisocial personality disorder also frequently display traits that meet the criteria for a co-occurring diagnosis of BPD.
Being a fraudster isn’t easy. To be good at the game the fraudster has to play a few of their own psychological games with themselves. Rationalizing is a critical component of the fraudster’s persona and enables them to dissociate with the harm that they are inflicting upon their unwitting victims. Cognitive dissonance occurs when an individual experiences two sets of conflicting values- hence the need for fraudsters to rationalize their behavior. “Nobody is getting hurt” or “I’m undervalued at work and I deserve this” or “I’ll pay it back when things turn around” are just a few examples of a fraudster’s rationalizing self-talk.
Throughout her testimony Querat tossed out statements like “I thought I could just pay it back when I caught up” and “At first I didn’t think it was stealing as everybody was doing it. I’m thinking it would cancel itself out at some point but it ended up long term stealing” and “I was having a hard time making ends meet at the time. I made poor decisions”.
Incredulously, at one point in her testimony, Querat comments, “I know it was wrong. If there would have been anybody at my work place watching over me…” To which Mr. Willson queries, “Sorry?” And Querat admits, “If there would have been anybody at my work place watching over me, I wouldn’t have done it.” Mr. Willson retorted, “If the sheriff was in town you wouldn’t have robbed the bank, right?” Querat was agreeable with the wisecrack.
After seven days of captivating testimony that included accusations of a scandalous affair, sexual adventure, man-eating beavers and re-enactments of violent scuffles -all described in colourful, lengthy detail, Mr. Willson introduced a series of text messages and emails that begins fraying the acrylic fabric of Querat’s story.
Do you remember how Querat testified that McLean contrived the cover-up story to explain away suspicions created by the couples’ lavish lifestyle? Querat alleged to investigating officers and the Court that McLean ordered her to tell anyone who questioned it, that their sudden good fortune was thanks to a win fall generated by Querat’s fathers’ death.
On November 19th, 2013, Querat and McLean’s love affair came to an end. A series of text messages between Querat and McLean were retrieved from McLean’s cell phone- an old cell phone, to be specific, that Querat thought had been tossed into a lake.
In the November 19th text messages, Querat is asking McLean to return a Polaris RZR –purchased with money pilfered from ANGSAT of course. McLean is refusing in his texts stating that she owes him $2,200 in back rent, methadone treatment and other expenses that were, in McLean’s words, “fraudulently charged” to his credit card.
Querat responded via text stating:
I simply want what I paid for and can prove. I’m only asking for what’s mine. But u r choosing this..and its not about us and me cos we are done
McLean texted back:
I don’t want any trouble
U give me what’s mine and I won’t tell anyone anything..and that’s fair here Glenn. I have done nothing wrong. Put rzr outside in morning.
So what is Querat promising not to spill? Mr. Willson wanted to find out, suggesting in his cross examination of Querat that she might be threatening to disclose an alleged affair. (McLean’s reply texts to Querat implies that he believed that Querat was threatening to expose the alleged affair if he didn’t agree to her demands.) But Querat disagreed with Mr. Willson’s supposition, and stated to Mr. Willson that the cryptic text message was meant to convey to McLean that if he didn’t give her the RZR she would confess the thieving from ANGSAT coffers and implicate McLean in the dirty business.
After Querat and McLean fire a few more texts back and forth, Querat texted:
I’m not even mad or hurt anymore…I just want what I bought with my dads $…so I can start over. That’s it. I would give it to u if I could but I can’t and after everything u have done…well I just can’t let u keep my things. I just started over and my dad’s $ helped and I spent most of [it on]us and ur kids..so please stop being mean to me as [I’m] the one hurting…I can’t leave with nothing. Again. It’s not fair after everything I have given and done for you and ur kids. Goodnight. Xoxo always.
Whoa! Did Querat just blow her story? Her above text sure makes it sound like McLean had no idea that Querat was ripping off ANGSAT. In fact, Querat’s above text would, to the average person, seem to indicate that McLean was a sucker in this entire fiasco, buying that Querat was footing their good life over daddy’s dead body.
But hold on now- Querat has an explanation for how all of ‘this’ might look to the average reader. In her cross-examination she counters, when Mr. Wilson questions her, “I was never allowed to text about it. He was always clear, don’t you ever text about [it]. We stick to the story because he knew his work could pull his text messages, so we always had to stick to the story.”
“Well, now that’s the first time you’ve said that about the texting, right?” Mr. Willson remarked.
“I told the police at the beginning that he’s very clever and there was one –there’s many incidents actually that are in all my statements that refer to that from the beginning.”
Mr. Willson questioned the ‘x’s and o’s’ at the end of her text message. Querat responded, “I’m a good person, nice person. I don’t attack people. I’m not revengeful too, but I’m still kind.”
And what an interesting word for Querat to use – ‘revengeful’. Time to introduce a new character into this mind-bending tale.
Meet Doug Perrault.
Perrault is a flyboy of sorts, but more importantly Querat’s next boyfriend. Querat and Perrault knew each other when they were kids and reconnected online very soon after Querat and McLean split up. Following her sentencing to two years house arrest, Querat left Elliot Lake and moved in with Perrault in Timmins. Perrault was completely oblivious to what Querat had been involved in and found guilty of. Incredulous you say? A google search of ‘Karen Querat Bedard’ brings up her Instagram and Twitter accounts- and more recently, her involvement in McLean’s trial in Sault Ste. Marie. What an internet search does not bring up is Querat’s involvement in the ANGSAT scandal prior to October 2015 when she explodes onto the online radar in McLean’s trial. Peculiar. However, Perrault knew what Querat told him. Querat told Perreault about McLean’s alleged abuse of her and his alleged manipulation of her position as bookkeeper at ANGSAT.
Perreault and Querat break-up just before McLean’s trial October 15th. Querat alleges on the witness stand all sorts of mysterious and awful things about Perreault to justify two emails that Mr. Willson introduced as evidence in McLean’s trial.
Two emails from Querat to Perreault- one dated October 2, 2015 and the other, October 8th, 2015. The October 2nd email is just a subject line that reads “You’re next”. Six days later, on October 8th, Querat sends Perrault a second email, subject line “Revenge is coming”. That email reads:
Waited till I was done with Glenn….. Hahahahaha. Also, I’m in Timmins to discuss everything. You might want to tell your fiancé everything you did as it will come out. See if she stands by you then. Haha haha. I’m having way too much fun taking you using, cheating, lying assholes down.
When these two emails were introduced as evidence while Querat was on the witness stand, Querat did not deny ownership, in fact she went to some length to explain her frame of mind when authoring and sending the taunts. Of the first email, the subject line, “You’re next”, Mr. Willson asks for clarification. “Who’s he next to? You meant after Glenn you’re going after him right?” Querat alleges that Perreault sent her threatening emails in the past and she acknowledges that she sent the emails in question to Doug, and in her words, “left that open for him to interpret”. Mr. Willson questioned, “And this is meant to terrorize Doug, right?” Querat replies, “That’s up to him to tell me if he’s terrorized or not…I’m letting him know that I might possibly talk to the police.”
When questioned about her October 8th email to Perrault, Querat dances around the message, saying “It was just a humour between him and I. This is a private email between Doug and I, so it’s not like I would be saying this to anybody else. Doug understood what this meant.”
“This letter is meant to terrorize Doug Perreault is it not?” Questioned Mr. Willson.
“No, it’s not a terrifying letter,” insists Querat. “It’s actually light humour in the sense that I’m writing it and I’m not degrading, I’m not telling him what I know. I‘m simply letting him know and he can choose to take as he pleases…”
“What you’re saying here, to him is, after I’m done with Glenn, I’m going to go to the police and deal with you,” suggests Mr. Willson. “That’s what you’re telling this guy.”
“Yes,” Querat replies.
In a conversation with the Northern Hoot in October 2015 and February 2016, Perreault provides a real earful but would prefer to not get too tangled up in the details, wanting to be rid of Querat in his life. However, he did state for the record via email:
I will say this. She got a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction knowing she was going to take a cop down. She told me this a few times. “That’s what happens when you mess with Karen,” she would say when referring to the current case.
Perrault last heard from Querat on November 20th, 2015 when she sent the following email from the same address that the October 2nd and October 8th emails were sent. It reads:
Hi. Hope you are well. I found a check you gave me for a $100 and I didn’t cash it til now as I needed it. I understand you went to the police about me but retracted. I want you to know I did not talk to them yet and if we cool it will remain like that. Take care.
Perrault responded to Querat via email writing:
You mean you forged. Lol. No such cheque was ever given to you and no i do not authorize you cashing it. It will just bounce and i have warned my financial institution of possible breach which you’re used to doing.
Timmins Police Corporate Communications Coordinator, Kate Cantin, confirmed that Querat, in relation to Doug Perrault’s claim that she forged a cheque, has been charged with: 2 counts of theft under $5,000; 1 count of making a forged document; and 1 count to use, deal or act on a forged document. At this time Timmins police have not made an arrest due to the fact she has not been in the Timmins area.
In Ontario, just one day of criminal court, costs the taxpayer an average of $8,333. So far, taxpayers have shuffled $58,331 towards McLean’s trial so that the Court, and the world, can listen to 7 days –and more to come, of Ms. Querat’s evidence in testimony.
Has Querat’s odd testimony discredited her as a witness? That would be a decision for the Crown- in this case Timmins Crown Attorney, Wayne O’Hanley. It would seem that Querat is the primary witness in the case against McLean.
Brendan Crawley, Ministry of the Attorney General, states if evidence does not point to a reasonable prospect of conviction the Crown bears a duty to withdraw the charge.
“It is important to bear in mind that the Crown represents the interests of the state. It does not represent any party in a criminal proceeding. Once charges are laid, the Crown Policy Manual requires Crown counsel to review the charges to determine if there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and if it is in the public interest to proceed. This includes evaluating the evidence of each witness. In all criminal matters, the Crown has a duty to assess the strength of a case throughout a prosecution, and is duty bound to withdraw charges if there is no reasonable prospect of conviction or if it is not in the public interest to proceed,” explained Crawley.
So, is there a reasonable prospect of conviction? Is it in the public interest to proceed with the case against Glenn McLean?
Another strange detail came out during Querat’s cross examination. Do you remember that condition of Querat’s sentence? 100 hours of community service?
While grilling Querat on the witness stand, Mr. Willson inquires where she has been putting in those required hours. “I had hours given to me as my work with the Crown,” is Querat’s confusing reply.
“What are you talking about? You did what with the Crown?” Mr. Willson asks.
After a run of questioning Mr. Willson was finally able to figure out, and Querat agrees, that Querat’s probation officer worked it out with police and the Timmins Crown Attorney that Querat’s preparation with police and Crown for McLean’s trial could be counted as community service- 40 hours worth. “I worked harder than 40 hours but they only paid me 40 hours,” said an indignant Querat. Timmins Crown Attorney, Mr. O’Hanley, didn’t bat an eye in the courtroom.
Fortunately, someone in the Sudbury probation office had the wherewithal to reject Querat’s trial prep hours and Querat is starting her 100 hours of community service from scratch.
But…how on earth could authorities involved ever think that it would be ‘ok’ to grant Querat 40 hours of community service for her trial preparations in the first place? Is this the Twilight Zone?
As a point of interest -in Ontario, there is not a centralized system for tracking complaints with respect to Crown Attorneys. As a result any complaints against prosecutors are dealt with internally by the Ministry of the Attorney General. The Law Society of Upper Canada reports that over the past 23 years only 9 of 2,200 disciplinary hearings have involved prosecutors.
“Crown attorneys are held to the highest standard and expected to conduct themselves professionally and fairly at all times,” quotes Crawley of the policy and professional conduct rules.
The expense and delays in criminal trials are fast becoming a self-cannibalizing monster lurking in the halls of justice. Legal observers bemoan a barrage of pre-trial motions that often last two or three times longer than the trial itself and the submission of enough evidence to choke King Kong. Regarding the matter of McLean’s testimony, the Crown is anticipating 18,000 more texts to be recovered. That’s millions of words –usually poorly strung together, to analyze, manage, disclose and argue over.
The Courts are clogged up with a back order of criminal cases waiting to go to trial. Northerners reading this may be familiar with the trial of three men accused in the gruesome murder of Wesley Hallam. It has been 5 years of preliminary hearings and pre-trial motions thus far and still no date for a trial. The case is before the Court in Sault Ste. Marie. Bruce Willson is also occupied as counsel for the defence of one of the accused in the aforementioned trial- when he’s not dancing with Querat in the courtroom. Given that Crown attorneys are “held to the highest standard” and are “duty bound to withdraw charges if there is no reasonable prospect of conviction” one can’t help but wonder what Mr. O’Hanley is thinking as he observes Querat’s performance on the witness ‘stage’.
So far, the curtain goes back up March 21st, 2016 at the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse, when McLean’s trial resumes, kicking off with, what will surely be, another dazzling interpretation by starlet, Karen Querat Bedard. Don’t forget, you, the taxpayer, are getting all of this amazing performance for just $8,333 a day.