He was hired to safeguard government offices, but instead, police say he spent his time rifling through employees’ desks for money.
Stephen Pittman was in provincial court in St. John’s Wednesday to face 14 charges of theft under $5,000 and one count of mischief by damaging property, all of which were laid a few months ago.
Since the 30-year-old hasn’t got a lawyer yet, duty counsel Jane Fitzpatrick and Crown prosecutor Mike Murray agreed to set the case over until Sept. 15 to allow him time to get one.
Pittman had been hired as an overnight security guard by Source Security to work the night shift at the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information on O’Leary Avenue, The Telegram has learned.
The centre implemented and handles the province’s electronic health records.
While Pittman was on duty, between May 1 and May 23 of this year, police say he damaged doors and broke open several desk drawers and filing cabinets in the building in search of money.
He pocketed close to $2,000.
The money included a collection for an employee lottery fund, along with employees’ personal cash.
Sources say that when staff noticed money had gone missing, surveillance cameras were installed inside the building. The cameras reportedly caught him in the act.
Pittman was arrested in June following an RNC investigation and released from custody.
However, The Telegram has also learned that Pittman has a history of committing similar offences.
Between 2002 and 2006, he was convicted of two counts each of theft under $5,000 and breaching probation, mischief by damaging property, fraud under $5,000 and possessing stolen property.
A spokesman for the provincial Department of Transportation and Works’ security division had told The Telegram that the man charged was an employee of an outside contractor.
When contacted by The Telegram Wednesday, Source Security’s Atlantic region director of operations Ian Hamilton said the company is conducting its own investigation into the incident, but noted it’s having trouble getting details of the case, since the RNC won’t share information.
“It’s part of the frustration,” he said. “I respect (Pittman’s) privacy, but it’s limiting us from doing a proper investigation ourselves.”
Hamilton said another part of the problem is that the criteria for being a security guard in Newfoundland and Labrador is much lower than in other provinces.
Hamilton said in other provinces, in order to get a security guard licence, part of the process of getting a licence involves an enhanced criminal background check from the provincial department of justice. Potential guards must even submit fingerprint samples.
In this province, he said, all that’s required is a criminal background check by the employer. He said getting proper access to that information may not be as easy and it may not be as thorough.
“In other provinces, there’s a more defined policy,” he said.
“I know in Nova Scotia, they’re turned down if they have outstanding parking tickets.”
Hamilton said the manager at the St. John’s office who was responsible for hiring Pittman and conducting his background check is no longer with the company.
He said Pittman had only been employed with Source Security a few weeks. He said he was hired “out of a sense of urgency” when another employee left the company on short notice.
As a result of the incident, Hamilton said, the company is no longer in charge of security at the building.
“We were there for six years with no problems,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate.”