Police are saying that a former director of services for Strathcona County stole over $16,000 in public funds over the course of the last two years. 

Local RCMP received a fraud complaint in June from Strathcona County management as a result of an internal audit which led to an investigation. 

On Wednesday (Dec. 21) Darrell Reid, the chief commissioner of Strathcona County, and Constable Chantelle Kelly with Strathcona County RCMP held a press conference to go over the details of the investigation. 

Cst. Kelly says that David Churchill, the former director of transportation and agricultural services, has been arrested and is facing fraud charges. 

"The offences that are alleged to have occurred were between February 2020 and May 2022," said Kelly. "It is alleged that David Churchill used public funds to purchase items that he converted to his own use and submitted fraudulent expense claims." 

"The items that were purchased were for his farm and also items for his personal use." 

Churchill was let go from his position in June. 

Reid says the audit that uncovered the misuse of funds was part of a system of checks and balances meant to help catch and prevent these sorts of things from happening. 

"It was just before June, in the spring of 2022 when our processes triggered the deeper look," said Reid. "As we looked into it with an internal investigation, there were some things that concerned us." 

The county underwent an internal audit after the incident to fine-tune the processes and ensure this type of behaviour is caught quickly. 

"We are constantly improving our processes anyways, in terms of fiscal accountability and managing public funds," said Reid. "Certainly, the internal audit did have some findings on some things we could do to improve our processes and systems." 

A misuse of public funds is a serious offence, and Reid understands that taxpayers in the county will not be happy. 

"The truth of the matter is that as information became available, an internal investigation was started within an hour," said Reid. "As quickly as possible the RCMP were engaged in the investigation." 

"One of the things that we want to communicate to the public is how seriously we took our findings and concerns and how quickly we acted."  

Churchill is not currently in custody but is scheduled to appear in a provincial court in February.