Come home, Bill
Fraud trial delayed after Chief Erasmus fails to show

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 24/00) - A witness warrant has been issued for Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus after he failed to show up at the trials for two former Dene Nation employees charged with fraud.

Two Yellowknife women had their preliminary hearings adjourned until May 2 after witness Bill Erasmus failed to show up in territorial court Wednesday.

Helen Margaret Edjericon and Ethel Rose Liske, both former employees of the Dene Nation, have both been charged with one count each of fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000 and the indictable charge of breach of trust.

The Dene Nation discovered about $90,000 was unaccounted for during an audit of their books.

Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus was subpoenaed to testify Wednesday. A warrant was issued when he did not appear.

"Apparently he (Erasmus) had to fly to Toronto for a meeting," crown prosecutor Mark Scrivens said Thursday. "The judge did issue a warrant in court, but he indicated the police were to use great discretion in exercising it." Erasmus could not be reached for comment. Sgt. Phil Johnson of the Yellowknife RCMP, said warrants such as the one issued for Erasmus are routine.

"It's just a procedural matter, a judge will issue what they call a witness warrant," Johnson said, to ensure the person shows up at the next court date.

"We wouldn't go out and arrest somebody that had a witness warrant issued against them," Johnson said.

"We'd let them know that they have to go to court. Only in extreme situations would we have to exercise the warrant."