box10.gif (1299 bytes)







Government & policy

Mounties investigating telemedicine entrepreneur

VICTORIA, B.C. – The RCMP are investigating Dr. Jonathan Burns (pictured), known in the health IT sector for pioneering a wound-care telehealth application, and Ron Danderfer, a senior health bureaucrat in British Columbia.

In a 99-page search warrant application, the RCMP allege former assistant deputy health minister Danderfer committed breach of trust by approving inflated invoices from Dr. Burns.

Police further allege Dr. Burns provided a number of benefits for Mr. Danderfer – a senior and long-serving bureaucrat in charge of B.C.’s electronic health initiative – including a four-night stay in Dr. Burns’s Kelowna condominium, and employment for his daughter and his wife, Joan Danderfer, also a veteran provincial civil servant. In the February warrant, the RCMP allege Mr. Danderfer committed breach of trust.

The RCMP allege in the warrant Dr. Burns double-billed the B.C. government with Mr. Danderfer’s knowledge, and that the senior bureaucrat counselled the consultant to inflate invoices and pushed for the acceptance of a $3.75-million contract with the University of British Columbia that would benefit Dr. Burns’s company.

John Waddell, the special prosecutor in the case, said the complex investigation, which initially focused on non-tendered contracts involving Mr. Danderfer and Dr. Burns, eventually led to a separate probe into contracts involving Dr. Burns, the Fraser Health Authority and the work of James Roy Taylor, an IT manager with Fraser Health.

The warrant alleges Mr. Taylor and Dr. Burns defrauded Fraser Health of $251,348.40 from 2003 to 2006 through fraudulent invoices submitted by Dr. Burns’s company.

The RCMP allege Dr. Burns allowed Mr. Taylor and his family to use the Kelowna condominium, and also employed Mr. Taylor’s wife and daughter.

Mr. Taylor is alleged to have committed fraud. Dr. Burns is alleged to have committed a total of four fraud and influence-related offences from his interactions with Mr. Danderfer and Mr. Taylor.

The RCMP’s allegations have not resulted in charges, nor have the allegations been proven in court. Mr. Waddell, a Victoria lawyer who was appointed as the special prosecutor 18 months ago, said the investigation is “virtually complete” and he will likely decide within a month whether charges should be laid.

Posted October 22, 2009