North Van widower ordered to pay $246,000 for deceased wife’s fraud

Brent Richter - North Shore News

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A Lynn Valley widower has been ordered to pay more than $250,000 and forfeit half of his interest in the family home to pay back the money his wife embezzled from the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

While working as an administrator in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Vancouver Coastal Health and at the University of British Columbia between 2003 and 2011, Wanda Moscipan stole and/or defrauded more than $500,000 from VCH, according to court documents released last month.

She got access to the money primarily by having busy physicians sign blank cheque requisitions, which she subsequently directed to an account she controlled, according to a B.C. Supreme Court judge’s ruling.

During that time, the family spent upwards of $23,000 a year on food and purchased 13 vehicles including SUVs and motorcycles, and Moscipan took her children on expensive vacations, according to the ruling.

“… there was evidence of the Moscipan family leading a richer lifestyle than a typical family of four or five with a net family income in the neighbourhood of $75,000,” Judge Leonard Marchand wrote in his decision.

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Wanda was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer in October 2010, but asked to continue working. In February 2011, a UBC doctor became suspicious about missing research funds and requested an audit.

The following month, Moscipan transferred a half interest in the family home on Tennyson Crescent to her husband Miroslaw.

Wanda Moscipan died in July 2012 before filing a defence in a civil suit from VCH that seeks return of the money. Miroslaw did not dispute the amount his wife was alleged to have taken.

At issue in the civil trial against him was to what extent should he have known about the ill-gotten gains, and how much of it was used to benefit the family.

Miroslaw denied that he was aware of or had anything to do with his wife’s theft from and fraud against VCH, the judge noted. Miroslaw told the court he was a stay-at-home parent who led a frugal life. His wife was somewhat secretive about the family’s finances and he never pressed her for details, according to the ruling. The family’s high living, he believed, was thanks to money his father-in-law was providing to the family, court documents state.

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But the judge found that amounted to wilful blindness.

“Given Ms. Moscipan’s obvious skill at deceit, I have concluded that she also fooled Mr. Moscipan,” Marchand wrote. “After carefully considering all of the evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Moscipan is liable to the VCHA for his knowing receipt of the proceeds of Ms. Moscipan’s conversion and fraud. My finding is based on Mr. Moscipan’s constructive rather than actual knowledge of Ms. Moscipan’s actions.”

Under the judgment, Wanda Moscipan’s estate is liable for $574,646, $246,073 of which must be paid by Miroslaw. As well, the transfer of her share of the Tennyson property to her husband in 2011 is declared void.

A separate legal case involving Wanda Moscipan’s other employer, UBC, has yet to be heard.

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