CALGARY -- A 57-year-old Lethbridge woman faces fraud, theft and possession of stolen property charges following a police investigation into missing funds at the University of Lethbridge.

According to Lethbridge Police Service officials, the investigation began in 2018 after university staff detected potential fraud and notified police.

Members of the LPS economic crimes unit determined the employee had falsified records to conceal the disappearance of more than $500,000. The funds were allegedly stolen over the period of a year.

As a result of the investigation, Donna Court has been charged with:

  • Fraud over $5,000;
  • Theft over $5,000; and
  • Possession of stolen property over $5,000.

The University of Lethbridge issued the following statement Wednesday regarding the allegations.

"This employee, with more than 30 years of experience at the University, abused her detailed knowledge of the financial systems of the U of L and falsified records to conceal the estimated theft of $580,000.

"Staff in Financial Services detected the fraud and were able to identify the individual responsible. On discovery of the fraud, the identified individual was immediately terminated from her employment at the University.

"University Senior Administration, Internal Audit, the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors, the Office of the Auditor General of the Province of Alberta, Lethbridge Police Services, and the Government of Alberta were immediately notified of the situation. A team of external forensic investigators was subsequently engaged to conduct a thorough investigation. The final report of the investigators was received by the Audit Committee of the Board of Governors, and the U of L shared that report, along with detailed information pertaining to the theft, with Lethbridge Police Services in support of their criminal investigation.

"The University carries fraud insurance to protect itself from situations such as this and the investigation report was an important part of the claims process. The U of L reached an agreement with its insurer that saw the institution recover the vast majority of the missing funds."

Court has been released from custody ahead of her court appearance scheduled for June 29.