A military dental technician who was convicted in Halifax provincial court of intimidating a justice system participant – a Dartmouth lawyer – now faces charges under the National Defence Act for allegedly improperly accessing people’s medical records.
Sgt. Richard Allen Ross of 1 Dental Unit Halifax has been charged with 19 counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, a military spokesman confirmed Friday.
The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service laid the charges against Ross on Aug. 25, Andrew McKelvey said.
“The case will now proceed through the military justice system, and no further information can be released at this time,” he said.
Ross, who has been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for more than 16 years, is performing non-clinical general duties pending the outcome of his court proceedings, McKelvey said.
Last March, Ross was found guilty of intimidating a justice system participant and three counts of property mischief.
He was sentenced in August to a year in jail, followed by three years’ probation, but is appealing his convictions.
Ross, 54, was granted bail Sept. 16 pending the appeal, which is scheduled to be heard in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal next April.
A Beaver Bank woman who worked in the dental clinic at CFB Halifax for some of her 17-year military career said she got a call from the National Investigation Service shortly after she left the Armed Forces in August 2019 advising her she had been a victim of a privacy breach within the dental unit.
Lisa Venedam said she was interviewed by NIS at the RCMP detachment in Lower Sackville.
“They said it was an ongoing investigation, that there were 13 victims and that they’d have to fly across the country to interview everybody,” Venedam said.
“By February of this year, I heard that that count had grown from 13 to 19.”
Venedam said she joined the military in 2002 and helped train Ross after he began working at the clinic a few years later.
“I showed him the ropes,” she said. “I was designated to show him around the clinic and show him how the clinic functioned.
“He surpassed me in the ranks and then he ended up becoming my supervisor.”
Venedam said it’s not clear why Ross allegedly committed the privacy breaches, or what he intended to do with the information.
She said she’s spoken with a lawyer who’s looking into launching a class-action lawsuit against 1 Dental Unit for its negligent handling of Ross.
“We’re very upset with our unit,” she said. “I gave 17 years of loyal dedicated service to the military. It’s frustrating, very disappointing. We were held to a very, very high ethical standard, and then to find out about this days following my release.”
One of the other alleged victims is Ryan Garven, who filed a complaint with the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia in the summer of 2018 alleging Ross had breached his medical records.
Lawyer Mark Bailey helped Garven prepare the complaint to the dental board. Over the next year, Ross sent menacing letters to the lawyer and his spouse, slashed the tires on their vehicles on two occasions and confronted Bailey in a hallway at his office building.
At sentencing in provincial court, prosecutor Rick Woodburn said Ross’s criminal conduct was “prolonged and sinister” and went “to the very heart of our justice system.”
Judge Claudine MacDonald said Ross’s obsession with Bailey and Garven was troubling. She denied defence lawyer Trevor McGuigan’s request for a suspended sentence, saying anything less than jail time would fail to meet the objectives of denunciation and deterrence.
The judge said a suspended sentence would not adequately express society’s condemnation for the unlawful conduct and would not send a message to people involved in court proceedings that they must not intimidate anyone who works in the justice system.
“Don’t go there, because there will be consequences if you do,” MacDonald said.
Ross’s probation order included a condition that he make restitution of $1,250 for the tires that were slashed. The judge also ordered him to provide a DNA sample for a national databank and imposed a 12-year firearms prohibition.
In his notice of appeal, Ross claims the trial judge incorrectly applied the law concerning circumstantial evidence, unreasonably found evidence of motive and misapprehended evidence. He wants the Appeal Court to quash the convictions and replace them with acquittals or order a new trial.
The Crown consented to Ross’s release on a $15,000 bail order with one surety, his wife.
The bail order requires Ross to follow a 10 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew, prohibits him from having firearms except for work, and bans him from having contact with Garven, Bailey and his spouse, looking them up on the internet or any databases, or being within 100 metres of their residences or workplaces.
The order also prohibits Ross from being within 100 metres of any courthouse in the province except for when he’s appearing in court as directed.