A local dentist was forced to defend her reputation after her former employee – and close friend – was accused of bilking her out of thousands of dollars, court heard Wednesday.
At Julie Dickson’s sentencing hearing on a charge of fraud over $5,000 in an Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines, Judge Tory Colvin expressed concern that the case led many in the community to take sides.
“The victim suffered unpleasant confrontations with clients and she lost some clients,” the judge said.
“The victim’s family would feel unwelcome at events in the community.”
Court heard Dickson was employed at Stone Road Dental in Niagara-on-the-Lake for eight years.
During her tenure at the dental office, she would do the accounting and book-keeping as well as receive payments from clients.
When Dickson resigned from her post in the fall of 2013, the dentist did a review of the books and discovered the numbers didn’t add up.
The dentist hired a forensic examiner who looked at the clinic’s account going back several years.
An initial review determined the loss to be in excess of $29,000.
The total figure is likely “much greater,” the judge said, as the dentist said she couldn’t afford the forensic accountant to investigate the clinic’s books dating back to when Dickson began working there.
“The doctor suffered a great financial loss,” Colvin said.
Meanwhile, the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake suffered an $8,000 loss, court was told, as Dickson had filed false dental claims through the town’s employee benefits plan.
The judge said the crime was not only a financial blow to the dentist but also left her with “a great sense of betrayal” since she and Dickson were friends.
“She wasn’t just an employee…they were friends,” Colvin said, adding the two women had vacationed together.
Dickson, a first-time offender, blamed her actions on her estranged husband whom she described as abusive and controlling.
She was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to undergo any counselling if recommended by a probation officer.
She is now employed at another dental clinic but does not have any financial responsibilities.
Source: Probation for ripping off Niagara dentist | Niagara Falls Review