Skip to content

Former manager gets house arrest for defrauding Burnaby company of $280K

Denis Batinovic, 47, has been handed a two-year community sentence and one year of probation for defrauding Northwest BC Mechanical 2015 Ltd. of $281,747 while he was the company's general manager.
Denis Batinovic, 47, was given a two-year community sentence and one-year probation for defrauding his Burnaby employer of more than $280,000 over a five-year period.

A former manager who defrauded his Burnaby employer of more than $280,000 over five years to fuel a drug and gambling addiction has been handed a two-year community sentence and one year of probation.

Denis Batinovic, 47, was in Vancouver provincial court last weeks for sentencing after pleading guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000.

The charge is related to money he stole between June 2015 and March 2020 when he was the general manager of Northwest BC Mechanical 2015 Ltd., according to agreed facts outlined by B.C. provincial court Judge Nancy Adams.

'There's no question where this money was going'

For five years, Batinovic wrote bogus invoices to himself and changed other accounts in the company's books to hide his tracks, Adams said.

"Ultimately, some discrepancies were noted in late 2019 by (owner, John) Devita concerned about possible fraudulent transactions," she said.

Another employee also approached Batinovic with concerns about the company's accounts, but Batinovic eventually fired her.

"Upon being fired or dismissed from her job, she immediately reported all these matters to the company in March 2020, and that ultimately resulted in a police investigation," Adams said.

Batinovic's lawyer, Garen Arnet-Zargarian said banking records left no doubt about where the money went – alcohol, drugs and gambling.

The problem spiked in 2018, when Batinovic lost $130,000 on over the course of just a few months, according to Arnet-Zargarian.

In total, he bilked Northwest BC Mechanical of $281,747 before he was caught.

"There's no question where this money was going," he said. "It wasn't going into his pocket to pay for a mortgage."

'Driving factor'

In a joint sentencing submission, both Arnet-Zargarian and Crown prosecutor Ian Hay called for a two-year conditional sentence (a jail sentence served in the community), two years of probation and a $50,000 restitution order.

Hay noted Batinovic had been in a position of trust when he committed the crimes and that the fraud involved a "significant amount of money over a significant period of time" with a large number of transactions and efforts to cover his tracks.

But Batinovic also entered a very early guilty plea and expressed remorse, Hay said.

The most important mitigating factor in the case, according to both lawyers, however, was that Batinovic had been in the grip of addiction when he committed the crimes.

Arnet-Zargarian noted a psychological report concluded addiction was the "driving factor" in the fraud and it likely wouldn't have been committed except for that mental disorder.

The report said Batinovic's addiction has been in "sustained remission" for 18 months.

Eighteen people wrote letters supporting Batinovic, and he added his own tearful remarks before being sentenced.

He apologized to the owners of the company for "betraying their trust" and lamented that one owner had died before he was able to tell him he was sorry.

"I had no intention of hurting anybody," he said. "My intention was to be able to put it all back."

House arrest, curfew

Adams agreed to the joint sentence, saying it was appropriate in the circumstances.

Batinovic will be under house arrest for the first six months and a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew for the second six months.

He will be required to continue getting counselling or attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings throughout his sentence and probation.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on X/Twitter @CorNaylor
Email [email protected]