Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Former Kelowna social worker arrested for allegedly stealing from foster kids

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

Jovin Walkus and Alayah Mack enjoy the Centennial Pool in summer 2020. (Geneva Walkus photo)
CCRD receives more funding for Centennial Pool project

The total funding for the project is now over $4 million

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

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

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read