Pubdate: Fri, 14 May 2004
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Sam Pazzano


Receptionist Denies Blame

A CASH-STRAPPED receptionist for a Toronto doctor accused of trafficking 
painkillers was herself accused yesterday of being the culprit behind the 
scheme that peddled up to 10,000 pills weekly. Yasmin Van Maurik denied the 
suggestions by defence lawyer David Porter that she was writing 
prescriptions using the stationery of her boss, Dr. Ravi Devgan in 2001.

Van Maurik -- a former drug addict who told the jury she has been clean for 
13 years -- admitted she never phoned police in July 2001 when she 
suspected Devgan was trafficking due to the "exorbitant" size and number of 
prescriptions he was writing.

But Van Maurik, who was convicted of welfare fraud and was paying back the 
$40,000-plus she bilked taxpayers out of in the '90s, told the jury she 
stayed on with Devgan's office for two months after a criminal lawyer 
friend assured her she wasn't breaking the law. However, she was told she 
should drop the job as soon as possible.

Van Maurik testified she quit Devgan's practice in September 2001 to work 
for Devgan's alleged drug-dealing partner, Toronto paralegal Sandy Hutchens.

"Of all of the places in Toronto to work, you went to someone whom you 
believed was involved in drug dealing?" Porter asked.


"He offered to pay me $1,500 a week for bookkeeping and the doctor had put 
me into financial duress for a long period of time," Van Maurik said.

"I was also interested in paralegal work, and have taken courses on 
becoming one since then."

She explained that Devgan had her pay his office expenses through her bank 
accounts. He was tardy in reimbursing her and had trouble paying his staff.

The outstanding debt Devgan owed her forced her into silence because it 
"compromised my financial situation," she said.

After she switched jobs, she testified she smelled crack being smoked at 
Hutchens' office but nonetheless stayed until his business closed in May 2002.

Devgan, 56, has pleaded not guilty to trafficking and possession for the 
purpose of trafficking oxycodone -- sold under the trade names Percocet and 
Percodan -- between Aug. 8 and Sept. 25, 2001.
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