Calgary

B.C. woman with gambling habit pleads guilty to embezzling $1.2 million from Calgary employer

When she was finally caught stealing $1.2 million from her Calgary employer over six years, Kelowna resident Colleen Dhuga blamed her gambling habit.

Former bookkeeper Colleen Dhuga to be sentenced in June

Colleen Dhuga, 50, has admitted to stealing about $1.2 million from her employer over a six-year period. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

When she was finally caught after stealing $1.2 million from her Calgary employer over a six-year period, Kelowna, B.C., resident Colleen Dhuga blamed a gambling addiction.

Dhuga, 50, pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud over $5,000 on Monday. 

"I see you have discovered my gambling habit," said Dhuga when confronted by her employer in 2014.

Dhuga admitted to forging cheques and stealing from company credit cards between June 2008 and March 2014.

According to her financial records, Dhuga used the money at casinos, on travel, dining and other personal expenses.

The details of Dhuga's crimes come from an agreed statement of facts read aloud by prosecutor Shelley Smith.

The thefts first came to light in 2014 when the Royal Bank of Canada noted unusual activity on the accounts.

Dhuga was initially hired by David Anderson as a bookkeeper in 1995 but her role evolved into controller for his group of companies, which included Winsome Capital Inc., EmberClear Inc., Winsome Oil Marketing and Immersive Media Corp.

Over the six-year period, Dhuga forged 185 cheques using a stamp with Anderson's signature and depositing the money in her personal bank account.

She also made 482 withdrawals from three corporate credit cards belonging to Anderson's companies.

She tried to cover up her crimes by telling the companies' receptionist not to open any mail from the bank. 

Once she was confronted, Dhuga admitted to the fraud.

Provincial court Judge Anne Brown ordered a risk assessment and pre-sentence report at the request of defence lawyer Mike Gilchrist.

Those reports will be prepared before lawyers make sentencing submissions in June.

Smith noted at least one victim impact statement will be presented in court.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.