Ottawa

Former Ottawa Hospital director accused of fraud compared to Santa in email

The Ottawa Hospital's former director of capital projects accused of conspiring with contractors to defraud the hospital was compared to Santa Claus by a contractor in an email for "always giving gifts," according to court documents.

Ottawa Hospital files emails from former director accused of fraud in court

The Ottawa Hospital's civic campus on Carling Avenue on Jan. 22, 2016. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)

The Ottawa Hospital's former director of capital projects accused of defrauding the hospital was compared to Santa Claus by a contractor in an email for "always giving gifts," according to court documents.

It's just one of several email exchanges in the hospital's defence to a counterclaim by former director Frank Medwenitsch, who alleges wrongful dismissal.

The counterclaim came after the hospital filed a civil suit in January accusing Medwenitsch and another longtime former director of conspiring with contractors to defraud the hospital in exchange for luxury vacations, family favours and deep personal discounts.

Medwenitsch argued in his own statement of defence and counterclaim filed last week that internal and external audits had given him positive reviews for years. 

The hospital statement of defence states, "the fact that Medwenitsch's fraudulent scheme was not detected earlier is not a defence to fraud." 

The hospital statement goes on to detail email exchanges between Medwenitsch and co-defendant Adrian Lapierre, director of G.A.L. Power Systems. 

The hospital claims Medwenitsch asked Lapierre in an April 30, 2015 email to select the names of the two others to bid against for a project at the Riverside Campus.

"In response, Lapierre stated, 'You're just like Santa, always giving gifts,'" according to the hospital's claim.

Email warned 'finance watching closely'

Another email, between Medwenitsch and co-defendant Gerry Dubé, head of DRS Construction, is included in an effort to prove collusion to settle old invoices.

The hospital calls the invoices "stale," and form a large part of the DRS counterclaim, originally worth more than $400,000. The hospital alleges the April 30, 2015 email, from Medwenitsch advises Dubé to "make sure" to provides information to the finance department because, "Finance is watching …………. closely."

 The hospital claims Medwenitsch cannot claim wrongful dismissal because he handed in his resignation on October 6, 2015 — even though the hospital previously revealed in court documents that it had already penned his termination letter but not yet delivered it.

Part of the hospital's termination letter is included in court documents:  

"The hospital has concluded that you were dishonest and misleading both in the performance of your duties and during the investigation meetings, you failed to follow the hospital's tendering, procurement and other polices you colluded with hospital suppliers, you arranged for Hospital suppliers to conduct work for you personally while offering additional hospital work for the supplier and that you accepted and failed to disclose gifts from hospital suppliers in breach of the Hospital's Gift policy."

Ottawa Hospital lawsuit timeline

Statements of defence or counterclaims to Ottawa Hospital suit that have yet to be filed:

  • Retired Ottawa Hospital director of engineering and operations, Brock Marshall.
  • Federal Electric, and owner Larry St. Pierre.
  • G.A.L. Power Systems, and owner Guy Adrian Lapierre.
  • Pro Management Construction Inc., and owner Roch St. Louis
  • Ottawa Diamond Construction Inc., also owned by St. Louis)

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