A Tecumseh, Ont. woman who pleaded guilty to stealing Ontario Health Insurance cheques intended for doctors will serve time in jail. (CBC)

A Tecumseh, Ont., woman who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $400,000 using Ontario Health Insurance Plan cheques intended for doctors will serve time in jail.

Justice Lloyd Dean sentenced Baljit Dhaliwal to nine months in jail and three years probation on Tuesday.

Dhaliwal stole more than $400,000 when she worked at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor, where she filed claims on behalf of physicians.

The judge also ordered Dhaliwal to pay $322,284.52 in restitution to Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada, a provider of healthcare liability insurance, and $49,005.63 to the Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital, to be held in trust for three doctors.

The three doctors owed money are Dr. Lorne Gula, Dr. Timothy Andre St. Amande and Dr. Hiren Desai.

Through the forced sale of her house, she has paid back about $60,000.

The judge also ruled Dhaliwal must submit a blood sample to Windsor Police.

"This case before me is a large-scale fraud involving a breach of trust," Dean said.

Money paid for lavish lifestyle

Dean said the sole motive of the crimes was greed and personal benefit.

Stolen money paid for:

  • House
  • Luxury car
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Clothing
  • Exotic vacations
  • Dinner
  • Furniture

Assistant Crown attorney Jennifer Holmes was satisfied with the sentence.

"Ultimately, a message needs to be sent to like-minded individuals that they cannot help themselves to public coffers. I thought his decision was very sound and sent the message it needed to send," Holmes said. "Miss Dhaliwal brought this on herself."

Dhaliwal told court in September she was terrified of prison and didn't want to be separated from her children or 57-year-old father with a bad back and her 65-year-old mother with poor eyesight. 

"We in the justice business take no pleasure in separating children from their families and their mother. The bottom line was ... some things you just can’t do. No matter how sorry we feel for people personally, we have to uphold the law as it exists," Holmes said.

Deposited doctors' cheques into personal account

Dhaliwal's crime seemed simple enough. When OHIP sent the cheques to the hospital, the 40-year-old was supposed to mail them to the doctors for whom they were intended.

However, Dhaliwal would take the government-issued cheques made payable to doctors and deposit them into her personal bank account.

Over the course of four years, she deposited 182 cheques into her account. None were in her name.

Dhaliwal, who was making $50,000 per year at the time of the crimes, claims she committed the crimes to give her children everything they wanted.

With files from Pat Jeflyn