A former Freshslice bookkeeper has been charged for allegedly defrauding the pizza-by-the-slice chain of more than $200,000.
Fatemeh Kazemzadeh Jartoudeh, 56, was in Vancouver provincial court last Friday to face two counts of fraud over $5,000 and two counts of theft over $5,000.
The charges stem from events in 2017, when Kazemzadeh Jartoudeh is alleged to have defrauded RFSP Equipment and Operating Inc. and A & M Enterprises Ltd., two companies behind the Burnaby-based Freshslice Pizza chain.
Police launched an investigation in May 2018 after a call from the company, according to Burnaby RCMP, but charges weren’t approved until this past December.
Kazemzadeh Jartoudeh’s lawyer, Michael Mines, described the delay as “really frustrating.”
“Three-and-a-half years is extremely long when it’s not super complicated,” Mines told the NOW.
Burnaby RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Kalanj said the detachment forwarded its original report to Crown in April 2019.
"When a report is forwarded to the B.C. Prosecution Service for charge approval, at times additional information is required," Kalanj said in an emailed statement. "After discussions and updates, charges were approved in December 2022."
Kalanj confirmed the allegations involve sums totalling more than $200,000.
A civil case launched against Kazemzadeh Jartoudeh in June 2018 alleged the former bookkeeper had stolen $238,000 from the two companies through fraudulent bank transfers, funnelling money directly into her personal accounts and into companies she had set up to benefit her personal accounts.
Freshslice claimed Kazemzadeh Jartoudeh had also used the company payroll system to overpay and make extra payments to herself.
In May 2018, Freshslice successfully applied to a B.C. Supreme Court judge to have Kazemzadeh Jartoudeh’s accounts frozen.
In her response to the lawsuit, however, the former bookkeeper said the companies’ claims should be dismissed because they were “without foundation.”
She said she had “acted as an honest and faithful employee” during her time as a bookkeeper for RFSP Equipment and Operating Inc. between September 2016 and May 2018.
“At all material times, Ms. Kazemzadeh posted invoices and transferred funds as directed by Ray John Russell, director of RFSP Equipment & Operating Inc.,” states the notice of civil claim.
None of the allegations in the civil claim has been proven in court.
Kazemzadeh Jartoudeh’s next court date is set for March 2.
Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor