Eleven years gives Earl Jones hope; hope of change, hope of recovery, hope of rebuilding his life. That is something the majority of his victim-families will never have. What kind of a cup-cake justice system are they running in Canada?
Embattled Montreal financier Earl Jones pleads guilty to fraud
MONTREAL — Haggard, shaking and flushed, disgraced financier Earl Jones rose from the prisoner’s dock Friday, handcuffed and clutching a linen handkerchief, to whisper in a quavery voice that he was sorry.
Then he was taken to be processed for jail.
Jones, 67, pleaded guilty on Friday to two charges of using deceit and falsehood to defraud the persons who invested with his company of a total of $50.3 million.
Both the Crown and defence recommended a sentence of 11 years. Judge Helene Morin will render her sentencing on Feb. 15.
In a surprise move, Jones and his lawyer chose to circumvent a lengthy trial and end the six-month saga that has left the formerly high-flying financial adviser a shadow of his former dapper self.
Gone is the jaunty smile he showed when arrested, the jokey demeanour and bonhomie that he used with clients and arresting officers alike.
Hunched over, wearing baggy jeans, a plaid shirt, sweater vest and sensible thick-soled shoes, Jones submitted to the intense security pat down before he was led into the courtroom for his scheduled morning appearance.
Several of his victims were at the courthouse early enough to see the man who stole their life savings pass through the hall with lawyer Jeffrey Boro, and took the opportunity to jeer at him.
“Get the toilet paper, there’s a piece of s–t here,” called out Charlie Washer, who lost $125,000 to Jones and had been waiting at the courthouse since before 6 a.m.
Forty reporters and victims filled all the seats in the court and Jones faced Morin when she asked whether he was pleading guilty to the two charges he faced.
Jones whispered yes to both counts.
“Do you know what you’re charged with?” Morin asked.
Crown prosecutor Pierre Levesque then asked that Jones be held in custody, and he was escorted to the prisoner’s dock. It was at this point that Jones broke down sobbing, bent over and covering his face with his handkerchief.
Shortly thereafter, cuffs were placed on his wrists by a guard.
“Jones had a lavish lifestyle, for him and his family — and we know for a fact, that he spent at least $13.6 million on himself and his family between 1987 and 2009,” Levesque said.
Jones began operation of his company in 1979. In a deposition given to bankruptcy trustees, Jones admitted he started dipping into his client’s funds as early as three years after set up.
He came clean to investigators shortly after his arrest on July 27, as documented in a four-hour DVD that was also given to the judge by Levesque as evidence.
It was this admission of guilt that led his lawyer to decide to end the process Friday.
“Because he did nothing to cover up his crime, it would have been impossible for me to win this case,” Boro said outside the courtroom.
“I liken this to a boxer who goes into the ring, arms down at his sides, and says, ‘hit me here’,” he said of his client’s statements to police and the trustees.
Jones has been free on $30,000 bail since being charged July 28.
“My client has been abandoned by his family. He was living alone in a rooming house, afraid to go out because of threats he’d received,” Boro said. “He was living in a prison while on bail.”
Just before Jones was led off to be taken to a correctional facility, Boro read something to the court — and presumably Jones’ victims — that his client wrote but was unable to say himself.
“There are no words to describe the hardship and pain I (have) caused. I have ruined your lives as well as my family and myself, and I will forever live with this.”