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Government & policy

BC telehealth fraud case delayed to May

VICTORIA, B.C. – The court case dealing with three men involved in a B.C. eHealth scandal has been delayed until May 21, after defence lawyers asked for more time to analyze the mass of evidence that has been produced.

Ron Danderfer, James Taylor and Dr. Jonathan Burns are facing 16 charges of fraud and breach of trust in connection with contracts for a telehealth system for wound care that was created by Dr. Burns.

The men were represented by their lawyers in a Victoria courtroom in early April. As a result of the large volume of information gathered by special prosecutor John Waddell, the defence lawyers successfully asked for the court appearance to be pushed back.

Waddell, a Victoria lawyer who is handling the prosecution to avoid any appearance of conflict by government Crown prosecutors, told reporters the case is “fairly factually complex.” But he said it was too early to speculate on whether senior B.C. government officials, or even cabinet ministers, would be called to testify.

Danderfer, a former assistant deputy minister of health, oversaw the creation of the $222-million eHealth project five years ago. The project, which is still being developed, is supposed to digitize and share health records, prescriptions and test results across B.C.

Danderfer is facing charges he allegedly accepted rewards from Dr. Burns, including the use of a Kelowna condo, employment for his wife and post-retirement income, in exchange for government contracts and business. He and his wife, who was also a senior government official in the Children’s Ministry, were suspended in 2007 and retired that year.

Dr. Burns and Taylor face charges of fraud and breach of trust relating to government contracts and work at the Fraser Health Authority.

Posted April 22, 2010