Supreme Court decision soon…
by John Symon
Earl Jones, the disgraced West Island financial advisor and convicted fraudster, could soon be out on parole reports La Presse. Jones was sentenced in 2010 to 11 years in prison for bilking some 150 investors out of about $50 million, but measures to keep him behind bars are probably not legal. The Supreme Court of Canada will rule shortly on whether convicts can be retroactively rendered ineligible for parole after only serving a portion of their sentence. The Supreme Court of Quebec earlier this month ruled that such measures, enacted by the federal Conservatives in 2012, are unconstitutional and violate prisoners’ rights.
The Conservatives, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, voted in former Bill C-59 in 2012 to modify the correctional system, quickly enacting changes to the law in reaction to how another convicted fraudster, Vincent Lacroix, gained freedom after serving only two years of his 12 year sentence. The aim was to prevent others such as Jones from being granted parole after serving only one-sixth of his sentence. But to do this retroactively raises many legal and constitutional questions.
Jones, who is currently serving time at the Ste-Anne-des-Plaines detention centre, has requested a parole hearing for June. He has been eligible for day parole since April 2013 and eligible for full parole since Oct. 2013, after having served one-third of his sentence reports The Gazette.
In a Ponzi scheme that operated over 25 years, Jones gained the trust of his victims–most of them seniors—before leaving some of them penniless. They lost pensions, savings, inheritances, and sometimes even their homes. Victims sued the Royal Bank of Canada, claiming that the bank demonstrated negligence in preventing the fraud. Just before Christmas 2013, some 125 of Jones’ victims received settlement cheques totaling $12.2 million from the Royal Bank of Canada, or about 44 cents on the dollar again reports The Gazette. RBC’s settlement included no admission of liability on the part of the bank.
Victims who are registered with the Parole Board of Canada have the right, at an eventual parole hearing, to express their feelings about how the crime has impacted their lives and voice objections they might have to the convict’s release.