A B.C. woman who stole nearly $150,000 from her employer and defrauded a number of insurance companies while working as a dental receptionist has been sentenced to 20 months in jail.
On Monday, Christina Leigh Bornais pleaded guilty to four crimes related to the fraud, theft, and falsifying records which she admitted took place over a period of six years when she worked at the Dr. Maureen Murray Dental Clinic in Kamloops
“The full extent of the losses suffered by Ms. Bornais’ victims is not known, and likely never will be,” Justice Brad Smith wrote in his sentencing decision.
The RCMP’s investigation of the fraud revealed three separate types of wrongdoing, according to an agreed upon statement of facts.
First, Bornais was found to have deposited at least 241 cheques from nine insurance companies that were issued to the dental clinic into her personal bank account.
Additionally, Bornais was found to have engaged in “fraudulent billing,” the court heard. This involved billing insurance companies for services that were never provided, overcharging patients, failing to issue refunds or credits when they were owed, and double-dipping to collect more than 100 per cent of what was owed when patients had coverage from more than one provider.
Finally, the court heard that Bornais was found to have “concealed her actions through a variety of alterations and falsifications of bookkeeping records.” This included recording client accounts as being overdue and writing off $36,396.08 of bad debt for unpaid bills.
“The steps that Ms. Bornais took to obscure her activities in the clinic account system made it impossible to completely reconstruct exactly how many transactions were legitimately sourced and how many were generated fraudulently in order to divert funds to Ms. Bornais and/or to cover her tracks,” the decision explains.
Murray told the court that the impact of the crimes extended beyond the initial financial loss. Auditing the books and trying to correct patient records has been both costly and time-consuming for the clinic, the decision explains.
The clinic is left with patient records that do not accurately reflect which treatments have been provided and which insurance claims have been submitted and paid.
“Due to the way that coverage is provided to patients, treatments that were falsely claimed or inaccurately claimed may prevent patients from making claims for future treatments that they need. Dr. Murray is providing these treatments out of pocket in order to mitigate loss for her patients,” the decision explains.
The impact on Murray and the patients at the clinic was one of the factors Smith considered aggravating in the case.
“Ms. Bornais’ offences affected Dr. Murray’s patients, whom Ms. Bornais used as unwitting pawns in her scheme. Ms. Bornais’ actions may prevent the affected patients from claiming for necessary dental treatments in future,” the decision says.
The complexity and duration of the scheme was also a factor the judge weighed, saying it showed premeditation and planning. The fact that at least $144,000.00 was stolen was also a factor in the decision, with the judge describing it as “a large theft.”
Mitigating factors in the case included Bornais’ guilty plea, the fact that she was a first-time offender and her expressions of remorse were considered mitigating.
Bronais’ defence was asking for a conditional sentence order of two years less a day, followed by probation. The Crown argued incarceration was necessary.
The judge agreed.
“Ms. Bornais’ moral culpability is high. While she is a first-time offender, Ms. Bornais engaged in a deliberate pattern of deception over a period of almost six years, all while abusing her position of trust. Ms. Bornais caused substantial losses to her victims. She did so in a situation involving the provision of dental services, which I find are integral to an individual’s general health,” Smith wrote.
“Her actions will likely have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts on Dr. Murray, Dr. Murray’s patients and the insurance companies. Her actions, given their severity, must be strongly denounced. The sentence imposed on Ms. Bornais must serve to deter those who would betray the trust of their employers and steal from them.”
In addition to 20 months in jail and two years of probation, the judge also ordered Bornais to pay Murray $144,885.96 in restitution.