This matter was heard by a panel of the Discipline Committee of the College of Optometrists of Ontario on April 24, 2012.
Allegations and Evidence
It was alleged that Dr. Stepec committed an act of professional misconduct in that he breached paragraph 1(1)49 of Ontario Regulation 859/93, as amended, made under the Optometry Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 35, in that, on or about September 29, 2010, he was convicted of an offence that affects his fitness to practise optometry.
It was further alleged that that Dr. Stepec committed an act of professional misconduct in that he breached paragraph 1(1)53 of Ontario Regulation 859/93, as amended, made under the Optometry Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 35, in that, he engaged in conduct or performed an act that having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional or unethical.
The Agreed Statement of Facts stated that Dr. Stepec was pleading guilty to the first allegation and that the second allegation was being withdrawn by the College.
Other relevant facts from the Agreed Statement of Facts are as follows:
1. Evidence of personal circumstances which affected the member’s judgement at the time of the misconduct was presented;
2. In or around January 2007 to November 2009 Dr. Stepec engaged in improper billings to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (“OHIP”). As a result of this fraudulent billing, in September 2010, Dr. Stepec was convicted of two counts of fraud not exceeding $5000;
3. In December 2009, almost four months prior to his arrest in March 2010, and prior to being contacted by the Ontario Provincial Police, Dr. Stepec retained legal counsel, for the purposes of making full restitution to OHIP;
4. Dr. Stepec was given a conditional sentence of 90 days house arrest and ordered to make restitution to OHIP in the amount of $30,000 which was an approximation made by Dr. Stepec of the amount of his improper billings; and
5. Dr. Stepec has executed a monitoring Undertaking with the College.
The Panel accepted Dr. Stepec’s guilty plea and the facts as set out in the Agreed Statement of Facts.
Decision regarding Penalty
The Panel unanimously accepted the Joint Submission on Penalty and therefore orders as follows:
1. That the member should be required to appear before the Discipline Committee and be reprimanded;
2. That the member’s Certificate of Registration be suspended for a total period of two months commencing at a time or times to be approved by the Registrar of the College;
3. That the member shall pay the legal and investigatory costs of the College in the amount of $7500 payable to the College of Optometrists of Ontario with such costs to be payable within 90 days of the date the Discipline Committee renders its decision; and 4. That the terms of the above penalty shall be included on the Register of the College and be fully accessible to the public.