R. v. Watts, 2019 ONSC 7472
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice case of R. v. Watts concerns an offender who was convicted of fraud over $5,000 for preparing 241 false tax returns and ordered to pay a fine in lieu of forfeiture in the amount of $149,129.11 in 2016. The offender had until 2019 to pay the fine and did not do so. The fine was meant to be paid with the proceeds of the sale of a home bought with the proceeds of the crime. However, the offender’s wife refused to allow it despite being fully aware of the order.
The offender applied to have the timeline to pay the fine extended, but the judge determined that there was no authority to do that. Instead, it may have been true that the offender had a reasonable excuse in the circumstances to not pay the fine. However, the judge found that the Crown had the option to use the civil court system to enforce and collect the amount of the fine. [at para 22]
R. v. Deveau, 2020 BCPC 44
The Provincial Court of British Columbia case of R. v. Deveau dealt with an offender that was convicted of fraud over $5,000 and sentenced to one year imprisonment and 18 months of probation. The judge also ordered over $200,000 be paid to the victim as restitution for the fraud. The circumstances of the offence were that the offender was the bookkeeper for the victim’s small plumbing business. They had access to all the company’s funds and finances and defrauded the company out of thousands of dollars over several years. The offender also cashed three more fraudulent cheques after the scheme was discovered and their employment was terminated.
The judge outlined several key factors that justified the sentence imposed in this case, “It is a lot of coming and going from the workplace, taking that money, knowing that money was not yours, facing those people every single day, and acting as if nothing was wrong and that you were simply doing your job and taking your pay for that job. So the length and degree of the fraudulent activity is an aggravating circumstance in this case. As well, pursuant to s. (c.1) this is an offence that has had, I find, a significant impact on the victims given their personal circumstances including, in the case of Mr. Wade Sr., his age, his health, and the financial situation of the company. This fraud involved a lot of money. Aside from these aggravating circumstances, there is the breach of trust in this case. All of the cases before me indicate this too is an aggravating circumstance on a sentence for this offence.” [at paras 21-22] This quote demonstrates that the specifics of a scheme and the direct impact on the victims are factors that play directly into sentencing decisions.
R. v. Barker, 2019 NSPC 24
The Provincial Court of Nova Scotia case of R. v. Barker was a case of defrauding the elderly. The offenders were a husband and wife convicted of two counts each of fraud over $5,000. The victim was the wife’s mother, an 83-year-old woman with dementia and was in need of constant care. The offenders had the victim sign several contracts for financial services even though she did not have the mental capacity to enter them. The offenders then claimed all the profits from those contracts.
The judge sentenced the offenders to three years probation with strict conditions, including an initial six-month conditional sentence. The most relevant factor to punishment in this case was the abuse of an elder who was in a position of trust with the offenders. Canadian law often issues strict penalties in cases such as this to highlight the need to protect society’s most vulnerable people. “And so, no, the Barkers did not employ violence. Nor did they exploit children, nor plunder cultural property, nor act on behest of a criminal organization. But they did abuse the trust of an elderly and vulnerable family member who was dependent upon them for her care; they exploited her to their gain and to her great financial detriment. That is serious enough. [at paras 14-15]