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Valerie Cooper, former art gallery CEO, gets jail time for fraud

Valerie Cooper, the former Art Gallery of Calgary CEO who admitted to defrauding her employer of $100,000, has been sentenced to a year in jail.

Calgary gallery head admitted to $100K worth of fraud

Valerie Cooper admitted in July to defrauding her employer of $100,000 through false expense claims. (Google Street View)

Valerie Cooper, the former Art Gallery of Calgary CEO who defrauded her employer of $100,000, has been sentenced to a year in jail.

She will also get a year of probation, 80 hours of community service and is banned from being employed in a position with signing authority on financial accounts.

Cooper admitted in July to defrauding her employer through false expense claims over a three-year period.

​Some of the money went to pay for her condo rental, unauthorized travel and personal expenses like clothing, cleaning and massage services.

Valerie Cooper, former CEO of Art Gallery of Calgary, was charged with multiple counts of fraud in May 2012 after the charitable organization said it was missing $500,000. (Courtesy of Calgary Herald)

Cooper said in the past that she never even knew what fraud meant but she did not mean to hurt the gallery, as she loved working there.

The Crown had asked for two years less a day while her defence had asked for no jail but a conditional sentence order instead.

"I'm somewhat disappointed that she wasn't given a conditional sentence order in the circumstances; however, clearly I think the sentence was within the range," said defence lawyer Willie de Wit.

He said his client is also disappointed.

"This is not a person that goes around and knowingly commits criminal offences. The whole gist of argument was she thought she was owed this money ... and made a mistake with respect to how she tried to get it back," said de Wit.

Judge Anne Brown said breach of trust, the amount and duration of the fraud and the fact that the art gallery is a non-profit organization were aggravating factors in today's sentence. 

But she also took into account when deciding her fate that Cooper had no criminal record, she is well educated and she entered a guilty plea.

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