The diocese of Brandon has launched a $350,000 civil lawsuit against its former executive archdeacon, the Rev. Noah Njegovan.
The statement of claim filed with the Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench alleges damages of $250,000 for fraud, breach of trust, breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. The claim also lists punitive and exemplary damages of $100,000.
According to the claim, during his employment as executive archdeacon from 2009 to September 2012, Njegovan was responsible for all bookkeeping for the diocese, including payroll, preparation of budgets and financial statements. The claim alleges that he used a corporate credit card with a limit of $2,500 for his own purposes and then paid the bill from the diocese’s deposit account, which was not subject to the detailed accounting of its general account, and intercepted bills from the mail to hide the transactions. These allegations have not been proven and no statement of defence has yet been filed.
The diocese asks for an accounting of all assets and property, including funds given to any third party by the defendant, and an injunction against the disposal of any assets.
Bishop James Njegovan has refrained from involvement in or comment on the case because Noah Njegovan is his son.
In a letter to parishioners, Archdeacon Tom Stradwick explained that the lawsuit has been filed as a part of the conditions of the diocese receiving a settlement for some of the money outstanding from Ecclesiastical Insurance. “At the last Executive Committee meeting in March 2014, the executive agreed to join the insurance company in the suit in an attempt to recover any money that might be available over and above the amount of the insurance,” he wrote.
Njegovan was charged with fraud over $5,000 in 2013. The Crown withdrew the charges against Njegovan in March 2014, but a letter to parishioners at that time outlined that a withdrawal of charges was not a dismissal or stay of charges, and that the Crown could proceed with new charges in the case at a later date. That letter also warned parishioners that the Crown had asked the diocese to hire an auditor to do a forensic audit, for which the diocese would incur additional costs.