Calgary woman who stole from children’s charity fund loses appeal

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A Calgary woman who stole more than $450,000 destined for children’s charities is headed to jail after losing an appeal of her 2022 fraud conviction.

Nicole Kathleen Mann argued the trial judge unfairly required her to prove her innocence, failed to consider her testimony that evidence was planted and didn’t scrutinize management of the charity account the money was drawn from, among other claims.

The three-member appeals panel rejected Mann’s arguments, finding her evidence was unreliable and contradictory.

“The ability to deceive is an essential trait of those who engage in major frauds. The plausibility of their evidence will often be the decisive factor,” the justices wrote in their unanimous decision.

“In this case, the trial judge found that although the appellant’s evidence was well told, it was unreliable and completely implausible. There is nothing unreasonable or contradictory about that conclusion.”

Mann was working as an operations manager at commercial real estate firm Colliers when she became treasurer of the Colliers Cares Foundation, a separate, charitable arm of the company.

She was sentenced to a 3 1/2-year prison term after being found guilty of theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and money laundering.

The theft was uncovered following Mann’s termination in December 2017, when two employees found more than $4,000 in cash and cheques written to Mann from the foundation’s account in her desk drawer. Also discovered were blank cheques with an executive’s forged signature and practice signatures.

An audit determined 89 cheques totalling more than $450,000 made out to Mann had been cashed by her between 2013-17.

At trial, Mann — who did not have any signing authority with the company — said the money was paid by a Colliers executive to buy her silence over four incidents of sexual assault she claimed occurred at Colliers social events.

Mann’s sentence includes an additional three years if she fails to pay back the $456,685 she stole within five years.

This article was originally sourced from www.CalgaryHerald.com