December 20, 2018 4:02 pm
Updated: December 21, 2018 4:41 pm

Woman charged with defrauding Calgary charity, employer over $700K

WATCH: Calgary police have charged a former Calgary woman with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for local charities. Tomasia DaSilva has more on the 10-month investigation and reaction from those she's accused of defrauding.

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A former Calgary woman has been charged with embezzling more than $700,000 from her workplace and related charity over the course of four years.

Calgary police said a former operations manager with the Colliers Cares Foundation — a charitable foundation established by the Calgary office of commercial real estate company Colliers International — wrote more than 90 cheques to herself.

The foundation is estimated to have lost more than $561,000 during that time.

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Police also believe the accused forged cheques to cover up the fraud, issuing an estimated $147,000 in funds from the Colliers corporate account to the charity.

CPS Detective Tanya Bertulli said this type of fraud happens more often than is officially reported, a result of people being “placed in a position of trust [who] are able to circumvent the controls already put in place by many organizations.”

But this incident stands out for one reason, she said.

“This is a larger dollar amount than you typically see.”

Pamela Smith of Colliers International said in an emailed statement the corporation was “very surprised and deeply disappointed when we discovered that an offense may have been committed,” adding the incident does not reflect the values of the foundation.

“We conducted an internal audit and forensic investigation early in 2018 and discovered evidence that fraud had occurred. We then promptly notified police. We also reviewed our accounts and the foundation’s accounting procedures to ensure the situation was contained.”

The accused also allegedly wrote two cheques to the Calgary Mount Royal chapter of the Canadian Progress Club (CPC), of which she was treasurer and president.

In an emailed statement to Global News, CPC president Megan Banning said the Calgary Mount Royal chapter of the service and fundraising organization found financial irregularities dating back two years after Mann “abruptly left CPC Calgary Mount Royal in October 2018.”

Banning said a “small amount of club funds were involved.”

The club is conducting an internal review and plans to continue supporting police, Banning said.

Calgary police conducted a 10-month investigation, finding the woman allegedly used the funds to pay off and then trade and purchase a vehicle, make retail purchases and to buy homes — two in Calgary and two in B.C. Police said Colliers with cooperated with the investigation.

Nicole Mann, 35, was arrested and charged with fraud over $5,000, theft under $5,000 and money laundering. Mann is due to appear in court in January.

–with files from Tomasia DaSilva

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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