Former St. Bon's accountant sentenced to 3 years for $549K fraud

After pleading guilty to fraud, Stagg was sentenced Wednesday in St. John's.

Kim Stagg, 33, pleaded guilty to fraud in June

Kim Stagg was sentenced Wednesday for fraud against her former employer, St. Bonaventure's College. (CBC)

A former accountant at St. Bonaventure's College has been sentenced to three years in jail on multiple charges for defrauding her then employer of more than $500,000 over a period of almost five years.

Kimberly Stagg, 33, pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud over $5,000 at provincial court in St. John's in June.

Stagg apologized in court for her actions, and to the people she hurt. She said she loved the St. Bon's community and thought of them as family.

Stagg said looks forward to "becoming a person who contributes to society again."

The Crown and Stagg's defence lawyer suggested in a joint submission that a three-year sentence would be appropriate. Stagg's lawyer pointed to the fact that the woman, who has two children, has no previous criminal record and was co-operative.

Statement of facts

Stagg forged bank statements and sent email transfers of money to herself, according to a statement of facts read by the Crown at a sentencing hearing Wednesday. She used the money to pay bills and take a trip to Disney.

Police learned that Stagg had multiple bank accounts, and that $548,909 was transferred to her bank accounts from the St. Bonaventure's accounts — where she was the only person with access.

St. Bonaventure's College fired Kim Stagg in 2018. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

The fraud "brought the school to its knees," the Crown's lawyer said at the hearing. Given the forged documents and that she made 341 transactions, the Crown said they wanted a three-year sentence for Stagg, along with full repayment of the money taken from the school.

"The impact [on the school] has been astronomical," said Crown lawyer Erin Matthews.

"No addiction issues. All the money went to support a lifestyle she could not afford."

A sentence of three years would be appropriate, Matthews said, but not "crushing."

Additional charges

Stagg was fired by the St. John's school in March 2018, and charged a year later with 10 counts including fraud, criminal breach of trust and forgery and using a forged document.

The fraud and breach of trust charges span from November 2013 to March 2018, and the forgery charges relate to monthly bank statements for the school, according to court documents.

St. Bonaventure's said in a statement Wednesday that procedures are now in place to ensure fraud of this sort could not happen again, and that the school was moving forward.

"This issue has taken a toll on our school community," board chair Nancy Healey said in the statement. "Trust was broken and that takes time to repair."

The school has recovered a portion of the financial loss and additional action is being taken for further recovery, Healey said.

St. Bonaventure's history dates back to 1856. After closing in 1998 with the end of denominational education in Newfoundland and Labrador, it reopened the following year as an independent school with students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Mark Quinn