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Government & policy

BC trio plead not guilty to eHealth fraud charges

VICTORIA – Ron Danderfer (pictured), a former B.C. assistant deputy health minister, entered a plea of not guilty last week in connection with a government eHealth spending scandal.

Danderfer, who did not appear in a Victoria courtroom, entered his plea through his lawyer, Mayland McKimm. As well, Jonathan Burns, a physician and eHealth entrepreneur, and James Taylor, a former senior manager at the Fraser Health Authority, also pleaded not guilty through their lawyers.

A trial was tentatively set for Oct. 31, 2011; it is expected to last six weeks. The three men face 16 charges of fraud and breach of trust relating to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of contracts on the provincial government’s eHealth electronic records project.

Danderfer oversaw the creation of the $222-million eHealth initiative five years ago. The project, which is still in development, is supposed to digitize and share health records, prescriptions and test results across B.C.

Danderfer is facing charges that 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 for Burns and his telemedicine company.

Danderfer and his wife, who was also a senior government official in the Ministry of Children and Family Development, were suspended from their government jobs 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. The three men were charged in March after a two-year investigation by special prosecutor John Waddell, a Victoria lawyer.

Posted August 12, 2010