A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled a widower is liable for repaying nearly a quarter million dollars his wife stole from the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority before she died.
Court documents show Wanda Moscipan worked as an administer for both the authority and the University of B.C.’s faculty of medicine when she siphoned more than $574,000 from the authority between 2003 and 2011.
Justice Leonard Marchand ruled this week that the health authority is entitled to be paid back both by her estate and her husband, who was found to be responsible for the portion of the stolen funds that were used as “a family expense.”
In the ruling released online Wednesday, Marchand says her husband, Miroslaw Moscipan, must have had “constructive” knowledge that his wife was receiving funds through fraudulent means.
Moscipan told the court he was a stay-at-home parent “who led a frugal life.”
He said his wife was secretive with the family finances but he thought she made over $100,000 per year and received money from her father.
Marchand’s decision says the family led a “richer lifestyle than a typical family of four or five” owning multiple vehicles and spending about $20,000 a year on transportation alone.
The judge says the restitution on the part of her husband “is adequate to send a message to others that they do not stand to benefit from the misdeeds of others when they know or ought to know of ill-gotten gains.”
The decision says the woman stole the funds ”by having busy physicians sign blank cheque requisitions” that she directed to an account she controlled.
The account had been created in 1994 to raise funds related to the death of a colleague within the department, but was otherwise dormant until she began using it for fraudulent purposes in 2003.
She then used money in the account to pay herself, her husband and their son as well as write cheques for outstanding Visa balances held in their names.
The woman began working at the university in 1974 as a junior assistant and was appointed as senior administrator for the departments of obstetrics and gynecology under both the university and health authority in 1997. She was described as “extremely helpful” and viewed as “an indispensable and central figure” in the department.
The health authority was responsible for 80 per cent of Moscipan’s income while the university made up the rest.
After her cancer diagnosis in 2010, a new department head, Dr. Geoffrey Cundiff, became suspicious of her activities when she decided to continue working evenings despite having medical benefits. Her actions in the following months continued to raise suspicions.
“In one case, he had to hire a locksmith to access human resources and financial records which were in a locked filing cabinet. Ms. Moscipan claimed the key to the cabinet had been lost,” the decision says.
An audit was ordered in 2011, and it was discovered that Moscipan was paying herself 80 per cent of a full-time salary from the university when it should have only been 20 per cent.
It was also discovered she received a three per cent raise, which Cundiff testified he did not authorize.
A meeting was called between both employers and her union.
“Ms. Moscipan justified being paid 180 per cent of the salary of a full time employee on the basis that she worked so hard but acknowledged Dr. Cundiff was unaware of the amount she was paid.”
She was fired and a separate lawsuit has been filed by the university.
The Canadian Press