Who was Mary Thibeault?
Mary Thibeault is a remarkably elusive character in the drama of what would unfold after her death. She lived a long 91 years, surviving most of her closest friends and relatives, and she has no significant presence on the internet. The living people who knew her best are probably the heirs named in her will, who have declined to be interviewed by The Coast. We couldn’t even find a picture of Mary Thibeault. We were able to find a few other people who had had interactions with Thibeault, but given the politically sensitive nature of our investigation, none felt comfortable being identified by name.
Several people remember Thibeault as a hard-working, frugal woman. One person recalls that Thibeault would stash cash---many hundreds of dollars---in cupboards in her kitchen, and that she refused to allow unmarried couples stay at the motel. Another person says that towards the end of her life, Thibeault had an ornery personality, and didn’t suffer fools lightly.
Dorothy Clarke, the owner of the mobile home park in Florida, seems to have been quite fond of Thibeault, and the impression Thibeault made on Clarke in Florida somewhat contradicts the impression Thibeault made on people in Halifax. “She was a very nice, friendly person,” says Clarke of Thibeault. “She enjoyed gambling at the casinos. She would take the bus and go every which direction and go gambling, even when she was probably about 90 years old. She wasn’t afraid to go anywhere on her own.”
It’s disappointing, and frustrating, that we have not been able to give readers a fuller picture of Thibeault, and that we’ve only concentrated on the unfortunate circumstances of her estate.
The missing eight months
December 7, 2004
---Mary Thibeault dies in St. Petersburg, Florida
March 24, 2005
---Peter Kelly recognized by the court as executor of Mary Thibeault’s estate
---Peter Kelly writes and signs a cheque to himself for $10,000 from Mary Thibeault’s account
March 31, 2005
---GIC valued at $100,066.78 is redeemed and deposited in Mary Thibeault’s account
April 15, 2005
---Cheque for $100,000 from Mary Thibeault’s account is deposited in Peter Kelly’s account
April 18, 2005
---Cheque for $15,000 made out to Craig Kelly is deposited in Bank of Nova Scotia
April 19, 2005
---$100,000 and $15,000 cheques are reversed
---GIC valued at $100,197.26 is redeemed and deposited in Mary Thibeault’s account
May 6, 2005
---Peter Kelly writes and signs a cheque to himself for $30,000 from Thibeault’s account
August 8, 2005
---Probate Court orders Peter Kelly to file an inventory of Mary Thibeault’s estate
August 19, 2005
---$121,587.13 is transferred out of Mary Thibeault’s account into an account controlled by Peter Kelly
---Peter Kelly submits an inventory of Mary Thibeault’s property to the Probate Court.
The inventory does not reflect the financial activity of the previous eight months.
Peter Kelly’s problems with money
“Money has sometimes been a problem for a man who has spent most of his adult life as a low-paid municipal politician,” wrote Daily News reporter Robert Martin in 1997, in a profile of Peter Kelly.
The “problem” with money Martin was referring to was an embarrassing moment in 1993, when the Daily News revealed that on April 9 of that year the town of Bedford paid Kelly $11,784.24, “bringing his year-to-date pay up to $17,233.12---or 73 percent of his $23,500 [annual] salary,” explained reporter Kim Moar.
By comparison, on April 9, 1993, all other Bedford councillors were paid $475.77, and their total annual pay was just $3,330.39.
“When I received my pay advances, everything was done above board,” Kelly told Moar. “Everything was recorded, was received by the finance department and with the full knowledge of the CAO.”
Subsequent reports revealed that Kelly had received about $19,800 in pay advances over three years.
Halifax lawyer Jack Innes was retained by the town to investigate the pay advances, and on October 26, 1993 Innes delivered a seven-page report clearing Kelly of criminal wrong doing.
“While it can be said that Mr. Kelly, in effect, received interest-free loans, obtaining a personal benefit by itself is not deemed a criminal act,” wrote Innes in the report, as reported by the Daily News. “I cannot conclude that [the pay advances were] either fraudulent or represented a breach of trust.”
On receipt of Innes’ report, one town councillor asked Kelly to apologize to taxpayers; Kelly refused.