Former Calgary school principal pleads guilty to forgery; charges of fraud, money laundering withdrawn

Alexander McKay, the former principal at Altadore school, has pleaded guilty to a charge of forgery in relation to a multi-year scheme that diverted $200,000 to his personal bank account.

Alexander McKay submitted false invoices while principal at Altadore school

Altadore School in southwest Calgary. The former principal admitted to forging invoices in a scheme that diverted $200,000 to his personal bank account. (Google Maps)

Alexander McKay, the former principal at Altadore school, has pleaded guilty to a charge of forgery in relation to a multi-year scheme that diverted $200,000 from the Calgary Board of Education to a personal bank account he shared with his wife.

McKay, who was named principal of the school in 2013, issued a brief apology during the virtual court hearing Friday afternoon.

"I realize that decisions that I made and actions that I took have hurt a number of people, and for that I am deeply, deeply sorry and apologize for that," McKay told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Kristine Eidsvik.

According to an agreed statement of facts read by Crown prosecutor Tom Buglas, McKay submitted approximately 100 false invoices that were paid to "non-existent" CBE vendors totalling $200,000 between 2014 and 2017.

"Rather than use the school's 'purchase card' to make purchases, Mckay purportedly used his own credit card, then sought reimbursement, which came in the form of cheques made out to his spouse, who worked part-time for CBE at various schools," Buglas told the court.

More than 100 cheques were paid to McKay in response to the invoices. The funds were deposited into a personal bank account.

"This crime is egregious. It was committed by an entrusted, professional member of our society," Buglas told the court.

"The crime was committed over an extended period of time for approximately three years. It involved false paperwork for each and every transaction," the prosecutor said.

"It involved sufficient sophistication to fool CBE oversight for some years. It was accomplished in contravention of the position of high trust held by Mr. McKay," said Buglas.

In January 2017, the CBE became aware of financial irregularities at the school and retained a forensic accountant to investigate.

A month later, CBE personnel seized computer equipment and hard drives from McKay's office.  In April, the CBE contacted the Calgary police with the results of the forensic audit, and provided "several boxes of hard copy financial and other documentation."

McKay was arrested in December 2019 and charged with fraud over $5,000, forgery and money laundering.

He pleaded guilty Friday to forgery, while the two other charges were withdrawn.

At the time of his arrest, McKay told police that all of the money had been repaid to the CBE.

Justice Eidsvik considered that to be one of several mitigating factors during sentencing, along with McKay's guilty plea, which prevented a two-week trial that would have heard from 23 Crown witnesses. She also noted McKay doesn't have a previous criminal record.

McKay was sentenced to two years less a day, to be served under house arrest for the first nine months of the sentence. He'll have to follow a 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. curfew for the next nine months.

It's believed McKay used the money to pay for "day-to-day expenses," along with payments to his now-deceased mother's long-term care home.