August 14th, 2020

House arrest for woman who defrauded County


By Shurtz, Delon on August 1, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald

dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 41-year-old woman who defrauded Lethbridge County of nearly $50,000 while she worked as finance assistant has been placed under house arrest.

Brandi Leanne Doucette, who pleaded guilty June 1 to one charge of fraud by altering documents, has been handed a one-year conditional sentence, the first four months of which she must spend under house arrest. Upon completion of her house arrest, she will be subject to a curfew for the remaining eight months of her sentence, followed by probation for a year.

During her sentencing hearing recently in Lethbridge provincial court, Crown Prosecutor Peter Mackenzie said Doucette made false entries in the County’s books between 2016 and 2019, which enabled her to steal $49,036. She modified receipt numbers for ratepayer and customer payments, and used a co-worker’s log-in to make false changes to utility accounts to conceal money she took, then used to cover personal living expenses.

Doucette’s fraud was discovered last year by co-workers when they noticed a problem with a payment she had received. They alerted her supervisor, who confronted her about the single transaction, and she admitted taking the money. She immediately repaid the $750 but was suspended while the financial software system that tracks utility and property tax invoices was audited.

The audit revealed Doucette had stolen $8,477 through 30 transactions in 2016; $10,076 through 60 transactions in 2017; $23,854 through 60 transactions in 2018; and $6,628 through nine transactions in 2019.

Doucette was originally charged with fraud over $5,000, possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000 and altering documents, and had elected to be tried by a Court of Queen’s Bench judge. However, Lethbridge lawyer Greg White changed her election to trial by provincial court judge and offered the single guilty plea last month. The other two charges were withdrawn.

Doucette, court was told, has already paid back the County of Lethbridge.

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