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RCMP search warrant alleges BC health ministry fraud

The RCMP obtained a search warrant for addresses in Kelowna and Abbotsford as part of an investigation into an alleged breach of trust and fraud by two British Columbia government health officials and a contractor.

The warrant details six offences involving former assistant deputy health minister Ron Danderfer, doctor Jonathan Burns or former Fraser Health Authority network services manager James Taylor.

Burns directed a company called WebMed Technology Inc., it said, which made a product called Pixalere, “a computerized system to assist home care nurses in assessing wounds.”

“During the time that WebMed was doing business with Fraser health, WebMed fraudulently submitted 30 invoices totaling $251,348.40 that Jim Taylor fraudulently authorized,” the warrant said. “Jonathan Burns conferred a benefit to Jim Taylor by hiring Taylor's wife, Janice Taylor, and Jim Taylor thereby indirectly received that benefit.”

Burns also gave Taylor and his family the use of his condominium in Kelowna, it said.

Danderfer was responsible for authorizing health ministry payments to Burns, the warrant said. At the same time, Burns hired Danderfer's wife Joan Danderfer and his daughter Kim Danderfer, it said. Burns also gave Danderfer two four-night stays at Burns' Kelowna condominium and offered to pay for a side trip to Egypt while he and Danderfer were on government business in Europe, and Danderfer declined.

Later Burns offered and paid for a trip to Paris while he and Danderfer were on government business to Europe, it said. Burns offered Danderfer “post-retirement income,” it said.

“Danderfer arbitrarily increased the hourly rate paid to Burns, first from $100 per hour to $150 per hour, then from $150 per hour to $195 per hour,” the warrant said.

Danderfer also “counselled” Burns to increase his invoices, it said. “Danderfer participated in allowing exceptionally large invoices from Burns by removing the contract administrator and authorizing Burns' invoices himself.”

It also said, “Burns double-billed for his services with the Provincial Health Services Authority at the same time as he was billing the Ministry of Health, and he did this with the knowledge of Ron Danderfer.”

The 99-page warrant, sworn in Surrey on Feb. 6 by RCMP commercial crimes officer John Taylor, became public yesterday. It notes the RCMP launched its investigation after stories about Danderfer and Burns appeared in the Victoria Times-Colonist and Vancouver Sun in 2007. Those stories followed a CTV report.

“Its never been reported that at the same time he was being paid by the ministry of health that Dr. Jonathan Burns who's a principle in this matter was also being hired by the Provincial Health Services Authority,” said New Democratic Party health critic Adrian Dix.

He asked during question period yesterday how Burns came to be paid by both the health ministry and PHSA while also billing the medical services plan as a doctor. Health minister Kevin Falcon called the questions “wild allegations.”

“How many hours of a day are there, and who's managing contracts at the ministry of health?” asked Dix. “Kevin Falcon may think that's normal, to have the same guy paid four ways by the same ministry, but I don't think that's normal.”

Working for both PHSA and the health ministry is a clear conflict, said Dix. “He's essentially lobbying himself.”

Falcon later said he hadn't realized what Dix was asking about until he spoke with his staff. “It didn't click to me he was talking about the Ron Danderfer case,” he said.

There were alleged irregularities and serious allegations, he said. The government froze the contracts in 2007 and Danderfer is no longer working for the government, he said. “I hope the special prosecutor will do, as I'm sure he will, a full investigation and lay charges if charges are warranted.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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