Regina vs. Kotowski
School over-billed; documents destroyed by arson
As President, Kotowski operated the Central Fuel Oil Company, which delivered fuel oil to the local high school. For three years he over-billed the school by shutting off the delivery pipe while letting the meter run. Then, before the documents could be seized, the premises of the company were destroyed by arson.
While record reconstruction is a challenge, access to third parties usually produces the required relevant documents. That is why I have never been too concerned when people fear document destruction. In this case, an engineer was retained to determine how much fuel oil the school would burn had all the windows been open during the middle of winter. His findings then made the accounting report meaningful. In short, the annual billings for fuel oil consistently exceeded the engineer’s conservative “open during the middle of winter” approach.
In a jury trial, with a gray haired and grumbling defense counsel and with me as the last Crown witness, I presented my findings through the use of colored charts with over-lays for each year to present a contrasting and colorful picture of over-billing. Of course I had to agree with defense counsel that my findings would be wrong if the engineering expert was wrong.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to attend the execution of many search warrants. These experiences taught me to quickly identify relevant documents from both the prosecution and defense perspectives, especially after the “grab all” approach was defeated.