Calgary

Former Calgary art gallery CEO apologizes for $100K fraud

The former Art Gallery of Calgary CEO who pleaded guilty to fraud became emotional today as she addressed the court during sentencing arguments.

Valerie Cooper says she never meant to hurt the gallery

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. (Google Street View)

The former Art Gallery of Calgary CEO who pleaded guilty to fraud became emotional today as she addressed the court during sentencing arguments.

Valerie Cooper pleaded guilty to defrauding her employer of $100,000 through false expense claims over a three-year period. (Courtesy of Calgary Herald)

Valerie Cooper was charged with multiple counts of fraud in May 2012 after gallery officials said nearly $500,000 was taken from the organization. 

She admitted to defrauding her employer of $100,000 through false expense claims over a three-year period last April.

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

Cooper said she never even knew what fraud meant, and she did not mean to hurt the gallery — as she loved working there.

The Crown is asking for two years less a day in jail because Cooper was in a position of trust and authority as the head of a charitable organization.

But defence argued for a conditional sentence with no jail.

Cooper's lawyer Willie deWit says it's a unique case because she believed she was taking money owed to her.

But Cooper admits she went about getting reimbursed the wrong way by using falsified claims.

Judge Anne Brown has reserved her decision until Nov. 1.