B.C. Supreme Court has ordered the former payroll administrator for a construction firm to repay $1.9 million in money embezzled from her employer as well as $100,000 in punitive damages.
Justice Gary Weatherill called the case “an overwhelming case of fraud, misappropriation, conversion and deceit.”
In a lawsuit filed in January 2022, associated companies B.A. Blacktop Ltd. and Eurovia BC Inc. sued Domenica Fazio, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto Dominion Bank, John Doe and Jane Doe.
The construction firms claimed $1.89 million for fraud and conversion arising from Fazio's embezzlement.
In a May 16 decision released May 29, Weatherill said Fazio was a payroll administrator and later a payroll supervisor until she resigned on Aug. 5, 2021.
Soon after her departure, an internal investigation began into discrepancies in payroll records, including with the Canada Revenue Agency monthly and annual accounts.
“That investigation led to the discovery that Ms. Fazio had been using her knowledge of their computerized payroll system to systematically defraud them of significant sums of money,” Weatherill said.
On Dec. 21, 2021, Fazio’s assets were frozen.
A forensic accounting team found Fazio misappropriated over $1.9 million from the plaintiffs. It was deposited into 19 separate bank accounts she held in four separate financial institutions.
The judge said Fazio’s responses to the lawsuit did not deny the fraud.
“Instead, Ms. Fazio makes broad and unsupported allegations against the plaintiffs that she was the subject of harassment, sexual harassment, overwork, and general mistreatment during her tenure as an employee,” Weatherill said.
“During submissions, Ms. Fazio effectively admitted the fraud. She says she developed a gambling addiction and gambled all of the money away to an online gambling portal,” he said. “She says she is now without assets or income and in poor health.”
He said Fazio was an employee in “a position of trust and committed a serious, protracted, sophisticated, and deliberate fraud that resulted in the plaintiffs suffering a significant loss.”