Suspended engineer under investigation again
Community: APEGA will look into foothills man's business conduct for second time
By: Darlene Casten
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 12:43 pm
A Foothills resident and owner of a Calgary engineering company is being investigated again, this time because of a complaint lodged by his stepson, who said he saw his stepfather forge an engineer’s signature on a stamp numerous times.
As a result of the complaint MD of Foothills resident Dennis Burton, owner of DFK Engineering, will be the subject of a second hearing by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) in May. Also involved is Peter Pybus, an engineer living in Saskatoon, who owned the stamp.
In January 2012 APEGA took the unusual step of putting out a public announcement warning businesses to check engineering work done by DFK Engineering. That included some sprinkler systems in Okotoks buildings, including the Town’s new municipal building and Home Depot. They also suspended DFK’s permit to practice in February 2012, after finding he didn’t have a professional management plan.
APEGA’s investigative committee also looked into two complaints from condo developers that hired DFK. Pybus and Burton admitted Pybus did not oversee site visits and inspections on a number of occasions and Pybus’ stamp was left at DFK’s office and Burton had access to the stamp.
Burton paid a $5,000 fine to APEGA and was sent a letter warning him not to represent himself as a professional engineer. Pybus lost his engineer’s license in Alberta and can’t reapply for five years.
Now APEGA will hold a hearing over the new complaints raised by Burton’s stepson and the pair could face more sanctions if they are found guilty of professional misconduct.
Dale Burton, who lives in Okotoks, said his stepfather did not graduate high school and was given an engineer’s stamp by Pybus, who was a longtime friend. As a result, Dale said, his stepfather’s work was not being checked, which could have resulted in catastrophe.
“It’s the same as a doctor,” Burton said of engineering. “Its like a person with a Grade 10 education being given a prescription pad.”
He said his stepfather worked on electrical and sprinkler systems that could endanger people’s lives if they are not working properly.
Dale worked for his stepfather for a number of years and said he saw him sign and stamp his work using Pybus’ stamp. When he began an engineering program at the University of Calgary, he said he realized what his stepfather was doing was wrong.
He said he questioned Burton and Pybus about the arrangement, but that didn’t stop the alleged fraud.
Others have also seen Burton sign Pybus’ signature on his stamp, said Dale.
Calgary resident Dean Carr, a former friend of Burton, who also had a falling out with the man, said he also saw him forge Pybus’ signature on his engineers’ stamp.
“I came into his office at the time and he was signing papers,” he said.
Carr said APEGA has his name and number, but hasn’t called him about the allegations.
Dale said he didn’t turn his stepfather in for a number of years because his mother was battling cancer and he didn’t want to upset her.
His mother passed away and three years ago Dale filed his complaints to APEGA and the RCMP.
He said he gave a statement to the Okotoks RCMP, but after receiving one call back, never heard from them.
He said he was surprised to find a package in the mail two weeks ago from APEGA saying a hearing into his complaints was going to be held.
“I think it’s way too long,” he said. “They told me it’s a volunteer committee and they don’t have the manpower to do this. APEGA shouldn’t be a self-governing body if they are a bunch of volunteers.”
APEGA investigative committee member Ron Pecash said they did receive several complaints regarding DFK Engineering and Peter Pybus in late 2010.
He said it is rare to receive a number of complaints against the same people from unrelated parties. The investigation wrapped up in April and since then one matter has been completed and a second set of charges has been laid.
A hearing regarding the complaints against Burton and Pybus will be held May 14 and 15 and June 6 at APEGA’s office in downtown Calgary.
Dennis Burton’s lawyer, Guy Lacourcičre, said they deny the allegations from his stepson and said Dale has a personal vendetta.
“We are going to vigorously defend them,” Lacourcičre said of Burton’s accusations.
He said Dale’s agenda for turning on his stepfather is clear. Lacourcičre said Dale Burton tried to blackmail Pybus and his stepfather for money with false allegations over misuse of the stamp and when that didn’t work, he filed a complaint with APEGA.
“He asked his father for a big sum of money and when he said no, he (Dale) reported him (to APEGA),” Lacourcičre said.
There are several lawsuits between the pair in civil court, Lacourcičre added, in relation to a battle over stocks.
“This is a disgruntled son,” he said.
He also doesn’t buy Dale Burton’s claim that he was trying to protect his mother and that is why he waited to come forward.
Lacourcičre alleges Dale Burton set up a numbered company with his mother as the sole shareholder and director. He said Dale Burton’s income went to that company, but he paid no income tax or other government-required taxes for the numbered company.
“He’s exposed her to CSA, audit, he exposed her all sorts of personal liability and he let this go on and on,” he said.