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Trial expected in alleged Imagine Adoption fraud case


KITCHENER — One of 12 charges was dropped Monday as a preliminary hearing began for the estranged couple who ran a Cambridge adoption agency that went bankrupt.

Rick and Susan Hayhow are no longer accused of breach of trust in relation to spending money held in trust for clients trying to adopt children from overseas.

But they are still expected to go to trial on 11 counts of fraud for allegedly blowing more than $420,000 on themselves while running Imagine Adoption.

The suspect expenses on agency accounts from 2007 to 2009 include family vacations, high-end clothing, home renovations, cosmetic dental surgery, and a horse and saddle.

More than 400 families across Canada were devastated when the Cambridge-based agency — which primarily arranged adoptions from Ethiopia — collapsed amid scandal just over three years ago.

Financial concerns were raised after it came to light that Susan Hayhow, now 46, was having an affair with a key employee and board member whose wife also worked at the four-year-old agency.

Susan Hayhow was the executive director of Imagine, an umbrella organization for three related agencies. Rick Hayhow, now 47, was chief financial officer.

A court order prohibits publication of evidence at the preliminary hearing, which heard from several witnesses in a Kitchener courtroom.

But committal for trial is not expected to be at issue when the hearing concludes later this week.

Rick Hayhow and his lawyer declined comment outside court.

Susan Hayhow also politely declined because of the ongoing proceedings, but referred questions to her lawyer.

“She has consistently maintained she did not commit any criminal offences and she still maintains that position,” Michael Lacy said.

Crown prosecutor David Foulds said the breach of trust charge was withdrawn because there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

The couple had a combined income of about $320,000 and drove expensive leased vehicles while running the non-profit organization.

Police investigated for more than 18 months — including the examination of volumes of financial documents — before charging the Hayhows last year.

2012 Aug 21