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MLA Rob Fleming’s former assistant gets delay in court hearing

MLA Rob Fleming’s former constituency assistant has been given until next Wednesday to enter a plea to five charges of fraud, theft and forgery.
Marni Offman appears at Victoria provincial court after being charged last month with theft
Marni Offman outside Victoria provincial court in August 2016.

MLA Rob Fleming’s former constituency assistant has been given until next Wednesday to enter a plea to five charges of fraud, theft and forgery.

Marni Ruth Offman, 45, was arrested in July and charged with defrauding Fleming’s Victoria-Swan Lake constituency office of more than $5,000, theft over $5,000 and uttering forged cheques. The offences are alleged to have occurred between March 24, 2009, and Nov. 28, 2015.

Offman was released on $5,000 bail after her first court appearance.

In August, she was charged with two more offences of fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000. The date of those charges is listed as Jan. 9, 2009.

Defence lawyer Jeff Johnston on Wednesday applied to adjourn Offman’s plea until Oct. 26.

Special prosecutor Dirk Ryneveld said he did not oppose Johnston’s application and did not object to the adjournment.

Fleming issued a statement in July saying he had made a complaint to Victoria police after discovering that funds were missing from his office.

Police probed the financial records of the office after officials at the legislature and in Fleming’s office noted missing records and accounting discrepancies involving expense cheques. The Criminal Justice Branch appointed Ryneveld as a special prosecutor to oversee the probe, giving independent oversight to the investigation.

The legislature provides approximately $119,000 a year to each MLA for constituency office expenses. That pays for staff, office supplies, travel, the organization of special events, and flyers and advertisements to facilitate communication with constituents.