Ex-Bloorview staff to fight charges

[attach]3750[/attach]Two former top employees at Bloorview School Authority on Bayview Avenue will fight [url=]charges they helped defraud the school of $700,000[/url].

Lawyers for both Bloorview’s former director, Linda LaRocque, 63, of Vernon, B.C., and former business manager, Paula Gerolimon, 49, of Richmond Hill said their clients would plead not guilty to charges made public in January.

The provincially funded school for children receiving treatment at the Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital launched an internal investigation of its finances shortly after current director Saryl Jacobson took over from LaRocque in September 2007. That led to a third party forensic investigation that implicated LaRocque and other staff members.

In December 2008, the school turned over its findings to Toronto Police, who conducted their own investigation. They announced in January the women had been charged.

Three other women were also accused, but it was not clear how they would plead. They include two former employees, Bo-Reum Han, 38, of Mississauga and Rose Hudson, 37, of Brampton, and one non-employee, Sandra Charles, 36, of Toronto.

Bill Thompson, LaRocque’s lawyer, would not say if his client is still in Ontario or if she is in B.C. or whether she was surprised by the charges.

“I think that anyone would be surprised when charged with a criminal offence,” Thompson said.

Gerolimon’s lawyer, Frank Pizzimenti, said his client is “looking forward to defending herself in court and clearing her good name.

“We’re waiting to get all the disclosure from the Crown.”

In addition to the charge of fraud over $5,000 levelled at each of the women, Gerolimon is charged with falsification of books or documents and laundering proceeds of crime.

LaRocque is also defending against the latter charge. Pizzimenti said the next court date had not yet been set.