Dr. Neil Pothier (right) checks out Simca with Kim Foster of the Bayview Animal Hospital in Digby.Jonathan Riley photo
Gary Keith and Anne Marie Fraser, former employees of Digby veterinarian Neil Pothier, have both pled guilty to fraud amounting to $100,000.
The Frasers appeared in Digby provincial court this afternoon before Judge Timothy Landry.
Defence and prosecution counsel entered an agreed statement of facts and said they would be making a joint recommendation for the sentencing of Mrs. Fraser but that no agreement had yet been reached about Mr. Fraser’s sentencing.
The judge ordered both Frasers to report to the Digby probation office by 4 p.m. today. Probation officers will prepare a pre-sentence report for both.
The court has set aside a couple of hours on Sept. 18 for sentencing.
Pothier, the owner of Bayview Animal Hospital in Digby, says he is happy this whole affair will soon be behind him.
“I just want to get on with my life and forget about all this,” he said outside the Digby Court house this afternoon. “We’ve got Shawna, my daughter as manager now, my son Alec is the head technician and we’re keeping it in the family now. It’s all worked out. We’ll be fine.
“We’ve got two new staff out front and a new doctor, so Bayview Animal Hospital will recover.”
He says they will file for restitution but he is doubtful if the Frasers have the money to pay him back.
“I don’t know but I guess their financial situation isn’t as good now as when I was paying the shot,” he said. “But they might win the lottery or come into money, you never know.”
Pothier says he will be happy with whatever the judge decides are appropriate sentences.
“I took part in all this because I want to see a conviction, so this is on their record so they can’t do this to someone else,” he said.
The Frasers both worked at the animal hospital starting in 2000 and at different times they both worked as office manager.
The agreed statement of fact says the fraudulent loss began in 2001 at the hands of Mrs. Fraser but that the losses began to increase in dollar figure, in diversity and complexity when Mr. Fraser began working as office manager.
Pothier’s wife Donna eventually became suspicious of Mr. Fraser but the veterinarian refused to hear it.
He told his wife “Gary would never do anything like that.”
However when the Pothier’s went to the office on a Saturday in October 2009 when no one else was there, Donna found a $70,000 unpaid bill from Revenue Canada, which Pothier thought had been paid.
He had sold a small property in Digby expressly to pay that bill.
Investigation has determined that the fraudulent activity of the Frasers included:
- eleven debit and credit card payments for repairs and servicing to the vehicles belonging to the Frasers;
- five cheques from Bayview Hospital to pay Mrs. Fraser’s cellphone bills;
- 170 debit and credit card payments for gas purchases for the Fraser’s vehicles;
- 12 retail card purchases to buy women’s clothing;
- 19 debit and credit card payments for restaurant meals;
- 12 debit and credit card payments of heating oil at the Fraser’s residence;
- 40 debit and credit card purchases at department store. Many of these items included photography supplies for Mr. Fraser’s photography business;
- 36 debit and credit card payments for computer equipment and printer ink for use by Mr. Fraser’s photography business;
- 30 miscellaneous payments for ride-on tractor servicing and for purchases at pharmacies, movie stores, liquor stores and grocery stores;
- failure to deduct Mr. Fraser’s share of the medical plan from his payroll for a year. He did properly deduct the payments from the other employees;
- removal of cash from cash deposits from every cash deposit in three years except for one month;
- 54 unauthorized cheques in the name of Mrs. Fraser;
- 19 cheques in Mr. Fraser’s name that amounted to unauthorized salary increases.
While all this was going on, Pothier couldn’t understand why his business, which seemed to be very busy, wasn’t making any money.
He sought a small-business loan to keep the business going, laid off employees, remortgaged his family home and cashed in RRSPs.