Trial starts for work permit board secretary

Charges date from 2009

Jurors began hearing evidence Monday in the trial of Tichina Rickfield, assistant secretary to the Work Permit Board in 2009-10, who is charged with misconduct in public office and making documents without authority. 

The charges are that between Jan. 12, 2009 and Jan. 21, 2010, she committed misconduct in a public office by falsifying Work Permit Board records. She also faces 15 charges of making a document with intent to deceive and without lawful authority or excuse during that time frame. 

Crown Counsel Toyin Salako opened the case, emphasizing that what she said was not evidence, but was meant to assist in understanding the case. She cited instances in which it is alleged that the board decided to refuse or defer a work permit application and the defendant changed the decision and recorded it as an approval. 

Ms. Salako said there were so many inaccuracies that she could not describe them as human error, but rather as deliberate acts. 

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans was the first witness called by the prosecution. She said the Work Permit Board met twice per week, and for the meeting agenda, between 75 and 100 applications would be normal. 

Ms. Evans confirmed that Rickfield was an employee of the Immigration Department and not a party to the decision-making process. 

The chairman and board members are not employees of the department, she explained. They are politically selected and appointed by the governor. Though they receive a stipend, they are volunteers.  

Ms. Evans also noted that the defendant had legally changed her name; she was previously Sunshine McLaughlin and sometimes logged into the department computer system as Sunshine. 

The defendant is represented by attorney Fiona Robertson. Justice Charles Quin presides.