SALT LAKE CITY — A 44-year-old employee of an online university is facing felony charges after being accused of stealing more than $500,000 from the school.
Shelley Ann Wilkinson, of Bellgrade, Mont., is facing charges of theft by deception, a first-degree felony, and three counts of forgery, a third-degree felony, in connection with the alleged theft, according to charges filed Monday in 3rd District Court.
Wilkinson worked for Western Governor's University from August 2007 through December 2010, charging documents state. In that time, her responsibilities included financial analysis and general accounting, but she was not authorized to generate or sign checks for the school.
The two employees whose names were signed told police they neither signed nor authorized the checks.
After Wilkinson left the position, her successor noticed two checks that had been recorded in the university's system for 1 cent each. Bank statements showed the checks with the same number actually totaled $169,780.81 and $245,000, the charges state.
Scanned images of the checks — which were cashed in October of 2010 — revealed they had both been written out to Wilkinson and carried two employee signatures.
A third check was eventually found. That check, which totaled $112,000, was cashed in September of 2010 and carried the same two signatures.
In the university records, the third check was written to a vendor bearing the name Pearson, but the scanned check showed it had been written out to Wilkinson.
The two employees whose names were signed to the checks told police they neither signed nor authorized the checks, according to the charges.
One of the employees contacted Wilkinson, who "admitted to taking the money and investing it in a house on the East Coast," the charges state. She further explained that the home was in Canada and she had written the forged signatures.