Sentencing of Col. James Macleod descendant delayed
Crime: Defence may seek conditional sentence for $1-million fraudster
Wednesday, Nov 01, 2017 06:00 am
A former High River businessman found guilty of bilking friends and associates of more than $1 million has avoided jail — for now.
James “Jay” Farquharson Macleod had an Oct. 30 sentencing hearing for fraud charges set over to Nov. 16 in Calgary after his lawyer submitted a last-minute 26-page report to the court.
However, Crown prosecutor Steven Johnston still wanted to see Macleod — the great-grandson of Col. James Macleod — go behind bars after court proceedings Monday in Calgary.
Johnston told Justice Corina Dario since it has been agreed Macleod will get jail time, his bail should be revoked and he should be detained until Nov. 16.
Macleod’s lawyer Mark Canofari didn’t quite see it that way.
“That jail is a foregone condition, I don’t disagree,” Canofari said.
However, he added a conditional sentence — in which the sentence can be served in the community — is a possibility.
He told the court Macleod, who was charged in 2015, has turned his life around. He added Macleod had no prior convictions before the fraud charges.
“Mr. Macleod has not broken any of his conditions of his recognizance,” Canofari said.
He said if Macleod is allowed to serve his sentence in the community, it would allow him to take steps towards paying restitution to the victims.
Canofari said Macleod would be under strict conditions and would be able to help others, such as telling of his experiences to high school students or at senior citizen centres.
Macleod started out as a mortgage broker in 2006 in High River. The events leading to the fraud conviction took place between 2009 and 2011. During his trial Macleod described how over the years in the town he became involved in service organizations and coffee groups. He said his office became the social hub of High River and said people came by daily to drink and socialize.
His mortgage business thrived, he testified, bringing in up to $400,000 a year.
In 2009, Macleod began a private investment venture, promising 14 to 16 percent returns on investment.
In her 19-page decision earlier this month when Macleod was found guilty, Dario noted Macleod built trust by paying interest and principal to early investors.
When two original investors received their money back with interest, word spread, bringing in more investors.
Some people re-invested after receiving their high interest returns, Dario noted.
Over two years Macleod took in $1.68 million, made no investments, returned some of the money with interest using new investors money and eventually ran out of money, leaving nine people out $1 million. Individuals, many from the Foothills, lost between $10,000 and $200,000. He also borrowed money from two close friends to keep his floundering finances afloat.
With files from Darlene Casten