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Karla Bortolon IC03843
Note: This is the full text of the decision of the Discipline panel in this matter. Any information identifying clients, witnesses or facilities has been removed [ ]. The member’s name is omitted if allegations have been dismissed or if the results are not placed on the public portion of the Register.
Discipline Committee Of The College Of Nurses Of Ontario
This matter came on for a hearing before a panel of the Discipline Committee on May 8, 2001 at the College of Nurses of Ontario (the “College”) to hear an allegation of professional misconduct against Karla Bortolon, RPN ( the “Member”).
The hearing was convened at 9:00 a.m. As the member was not present nor represented by Counsel, the panel recessed for thirty minutes to allow the Member an opportunity to appear. The panel reconvened at 9:30 a.m. and noted that the Member was still not present nor represented by Counsel.
The panel proceeded with the hearing, on the basis that the Member denied the allegations as set out in the Notice of Hearing.
Counsel for the College entered into evidence an Affidavit of Service, Exhibit #1, and the Notice of Hearing, Exhibit #2.
The Affidavit of Service confirmed that the Member had been personally served with the Notice of Hearing which specifically set out the place and time for the hearing.
The panel was satisfied that the Member had received proper notice of the proceedings.
Notice of Hearing
The Notice of Hearing provides as follows:
College Counsel entered into evidence a Certificate of Conviction -- Court File No 98-1044, Exhibit #3, which certified that on November 25, 1999, at Ontario Superior Court of Justice, [in the city], the Member was tried upon the charge that she, between the first day of July 1997, and the 31st day of March 1998, at the [city], by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, did defraud [Client “A” and Client “B”] of a sum of money, having the value exceeding five thousand dollars contrary to section 380(1)(a) of the Criminal Code and was convicted of the said offence. The following punishment was imposed upon the Member, namely, she was sentenced to one year in jail to be served in the community. A Compensation Order was made in favour of the [bank] for $34,370.94.
The panel accepted Exhibit #4, a transcript of the Sentencing Report, at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, [in the city], which also confirms the fact that the Member was guilty as charged.
The Sentencing Report indicates that the Member graduated from [a community college] as an RPN. Subsequently, she was employed at [an agency] which she left in 1997. She then met [Client “A” and Client “B”] and was employed in their home as a caregiver from July, 1997 until March, 1998, when her job was terminated.
According to the Sentencing Report, [Client “A” and Client “B”] were an elderly couple in failing health and unable to care for themselves. The Member, within days of beginning her employment, repeatedly repeated frequent acts of theft and fraud. Each time the Member cashed a cheque she was not entitled to or forged a cheque and then cashed it, she took advantage of elderly vulnerable victims who trusted her with their care and wellbeing. The total amount of the funds drawn from the victims’ account was in the amount of $34,370.94.
Counsel for the College drew the panel’s attention to a section of the Sentencing Report where the Crown submitted to the Judge that the real damage was not about the thirty-four thousand dollars lost but rather about the fact that the Member rendered it impossible for [Client “A” and Client “B”] to pass their last days in peace and for their family to grieve the loss of their parents in a way that people ought to be able to do.
The panel deliberated and found the Member guilty of Professional Misconduct as set out in the Notice of Hearing.
In particular, the panel finds that the Member committed an act of professional misconduct as provided by subsection 51 (1) (a) of the Health Professions Procedural Code in that on February 22, 2000 in the Ontario Court of Justice in [the city] she was found guilty of an offence relevant to her suitability to practice and in particular was convicted of defrauding [Client “A” and Client “B”] of a sum of money exceeding $5,000.00, contrary to section 380 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Reasons for Decision
The Certificate of Conviction entered into evidence as Exhibit #3 stated that the Member was found guilty of defrauding [Client “A’ and Client “B”] of a sum of money having the value exceeding five thousand dollars, contrary to section 380(1)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada. The Cerificate of Conviction also stated that the Member was sentenced to one year in jail to be served in the community. The panel found the Member’s behaviour to be deplorable in the extreme in that she repeatedly cashed cheques obtained by fraud and was made much more so in that she took advantage of an elderly, frail and vulnerable couple.
Counsel for College submitted that [Client “A” and Client “B”] were an elderly, vulnerable couple, in failing health, who placed their trust in the Member as their caregiver. Counsel for the College entered Victim Statements from the family, Exhibit #5.
[Client “A” and Client “B”]’s daughter, [Daughter “A”], noted that her parents had moved to [name of place deleted] in the spring of 1997 as they were in failing health and needed to be close to a family member in order to feel safe and secure in their remaining days. The Member was hired shortly thereafter and the impact of the fraud and theft on [Daughter “A”]’s parents was enormous as they had put their trust in her as their caregiver.
[Daughter “B”] also outlined the impact on her parents. She stated that her father, [Client “A”], experienced confusing reactions, financial insecurity and a lack of control of his finances which he had provided to last them their lifetime. He was anxious and concerned that his bank balance was so very low and could not understand why.
[Daughter “B”] also stated that her mother, [Client “B”], experienced a profound sense of betrayal when hearing of the fraud. She felt very vulnerable, defeated and blamed herself for the crime. She felt victimized as she was confined to bed and could not protect herself. This affected all her relationships and robbed her of peace and security in the month and a half before her death.
Both daughters noted that the fraud and death of both parents caused considerable confusion, emotional stress and taxed family relationships. They blamed themselves for the lost opportunity of providing a secure environment for their parents before their deaths.
Much time was required to reconstruct and reconcile the activity of the bank accounts and the number of fraudulent cheques. In addition, at the time the fraud was discovered, the sisters were dealing with the paperwork of their father’s estate and following their mother’s death to deal with her estate. Sorting out the fraud added pressure and stress to an already heavy time commitment and took added time away from their family members.
The panel deliberated and unanimously accepted College Counsel recommendation that the only appropriate penalty would be revocation of the Member’s Certificate of Registration. Therefore, the panel directs the Registrar of the College to revoke the Member’s Certificate of Registration effective May 8, 2001.
Reasons for Penalty
The panel found that the Member had blatantly committed professional misconduct, in that she took advantage of an elderly couple by repeated acts of theft and fraud. The victims were extraordinarily vulnerable, unable to care for themselves and the breach of trust was untenable and indefensible as it was committed by the very person who was retained to look after their daily living needs. The emotional damage that was inflicted on the victims and their family was devastating.
The panel concludes that the severe penalty of revocation of the Member’s Certificate of Registration is to prevent a reoccurrence of this form of professional misconduct. It provides a general deterrent in the members of the nursing profession from engaging in such misconduct, thereby sending a strong message to the profession and serves the College’s mandate to protect the public interest that such misconduct will not be tolerated.
The Member’s breach of trust on members of the public is completely contrary to the beliefs of the Nursing Profession which holds public trust, honesty and integrity as the cornerstone of their profession.
I, Kay Wetherall, Public Member, sign this decision and reasons for the decision as Chairperson of this Discipline Panel and on behalf of the members of the Discipline Panel as listed below:
_________________________________________, Chairperson _____________________Date
Kay Wetherall, Public Member, Chair