A Field woman has been sentenced to two years of house arrest after defrauding the West Nipissing Family Health Team of over $460,000 while she worked there in 2018.
Though the criminal proceedings have come to a close, members of the Family Health Team say the theft will have a lasting impact for years to come, if the team even has a future at all.
“We’re still not sure, literally three years into it, if we’re going to be able to stay open,” says Dr. Andree Morrison, a family physician with the team.
Former employee Julie Michaud pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 and one count of uttering a forged document on March 10, 2021. She received a conditional sentence of imprisonment for two years less a day, a stand-alone restitution order to pay back $460,307.42 to the West Nipissing Family Health Team, and she must perform 100 hours of community service.
Though Crown Attorney Pierre Lambert-Belanger pushed for her to serve 90 days in custody, Justice Erin J. Lainevool noted in her ruling that Michaud had since returned to work and that maintaining her employment would allow for restitution to be recovered by the Family Health Team. Justice Lainevool has also stopped imposing weekend sentences during the COVID-19 pandemic over concerns of transmission.
Michaud began working for the Family Health Team in 2015 on a one-year contract, which turned into full-time employment in 2016. She was a receptionist and administrative assistant. After the previous executive director left, she took on the role on an interim basis in June 2018, having already assumed some of the duties of the position. Michaud had no prior experience in an executive role.
Between March and October of 2018, she made at least 45 fraudulent transactions, moving amounts ranging between $1,000 and $45,000 from the team’s government funding to her personal accounts, either by electronic form or forged cheques made out to her personally.