Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Former Kelowna social worker arrested for allegedly stealing from foster children

Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in Alberta and will be brought back to B.C. to face charges

An Okanagan-area social worker accused of stealing money from foster children is now facing criminal charges.

Kelowna RCMP began its investigation into Robert Riley Saunders back in March of 2018, while he was still employed with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

It’s alleged Saunders had moved children in government care from stable homes in order to make them eligible for financial benefits from the province, before stealing those government funds.

Saunders, who was believed to be working at a golf course in Alberta earlier this year, was recently arrested in that province and is being brought back to B.C. to appear before a Kelowna Provincial Court next week.

Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance said the investigation was long and laborious and was led by the fraud section of the serious crime unit.

The BC Prosecution Service confirmed Friday (Dec. 4) the approval of 13 charges against Saunders including 10 counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000, one count of breach of trust and one count of uttering a forged document.

Aside from criminal charges, Saunders – as well as the ministry – are also at the centre of a class-action lawsuit led by former youth in care in B.C.

Statements of claim accuse Saunders of stealing the funds deposited into accounts of those youth, leaving the foster children homeless and subject to physical and sexual abuse, as well as vulnerable to addiction.

READ MORE: Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

In October, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alan Ross approved a settlement for more than 100 people.

The notice of settlement says each member will get a basic $25,000 payment and those who are Indigenous will get an additional $44,000.

Further damages could be paid to those who experienced homelessness, psychological harm, sexual exploitation, injury, or whose education was delayed, the settlement says.

Saunders was hired by the ministry in 1996 and transferred to Kelowna in 2001. He was fired in 2018.

READ MORE: Former Kelowna social worker sued again for allegedly stealing from foster children


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Okanagan Clinical Trials is looking at gut bacteria as a way of slowing down the development of Alzheimer’s. (Alzheimer Society of B.C. photo)
Okanagan study looking for volunteers of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

The study is looking at how gut bacteria may help slow the disease

Dr. Hadi Mohammadi is the lead researcher at UBCO's Heart Valve Performance Lab. (University of BC Okanagan)
UBCO researches redesign mechanical heart valve to improve blood flow

The redesigned mechanical heart valve will also help prevent clots

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
UPDATE: West Kelowna man who beat his mom could be sentenced up to 9 years

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to reports of a structure fire on Valleyview Place Jan. 26, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Fire snuffed in Vernon home

No visible smoke, flames from area of reported structure fire

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Vernon now has an approved 13 cannabis shops in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon, the ‘Pot capital of B.C.’ greenlights two new stores downtown

Two more shops, within 240 metres, approved, despite neighbouring businesses opposition

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two fibreglass bees were stolen from Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farm Nov. 22, 2020. (Facebook)
Stolen bee returned to Vernon honey farm

Two months after thieves buzzed off with two bee sculptures, public tips led police one of them

Most Read