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Earl Jones victims soldier on

September, 2009

The collective financial loss of the victims of fraudulent investor Earl Jones is thought to be as much as $50 million. But there is no accurate measure of the devastation the con man has hurled into the lives of the clients who trusted him for decades.

“We’re into the eighth week of this and the first six weeks were mostly shock, a lot of panic and fear, feeling sick to your stomach every day, waking up at 3am saying ‘Oh my God,’” said Betty Davis, a 78-year-old widow who lost 30 years of her savings and nearly half of her future monthly income to Jones. Seeing her stand tall, with her clear blue eyes and lovely smile, wearing a pink baseball cap, apologizing for the chaos created by workmen changing her kitchen door, one would never know she’s just had the carpet pulled out from under her.

“The only thing that kept me sane is playing golf. But now I figure things have calmed down and I’m starting to be active in redesigning my life.”

Whi l e she found meeti ng wi th other victims helpful, it was also a painful experience, Davis said. “Staying in touch with other victims is too heavy – the load of anguish and distress is too much to bear if you’re right up against it. It’s a very emotional matter, a tremendous blow to your self-esteem. It knocked your life apart and you have to rebuild it.”

Betty Davis with her son Joey Davis: "We want to give people hope" Photo: Kristine Berey

Still, Davis is one of the luckier ones. Her son Joey Davis is nearby and, along with other sons and daughters of Earl Jones’s victims, is taking the fight for justice for victims of white collar crime to a higher level while mobilizing public opinion.

“We effectively want to change the criminal laws in Canada,” Joey Davis said. “We want stiffer sentencing for white-collar crime, institute a single regulatory body over all financial institutions in Canada, and we want to see a charter of rights for victims of white-collar crime and a national compensation fund. We’ve got some big guns going – it’s not just an Earl Jones situation. White-collar crime is a scourge across the country.”

So far there have been over 225 cases, Davis says. He and other children of victims have formed an organizing committee and have met with government officials, including the Prime Minister. The group will organize a “march of generations” on Parliament Hill September 26 to launch the National Coalition against White-Collar Crime.

Davis has put out a call for victims to come forward and tell their story. “We want to give people hope. We’ll be starting a foundation, a one-stop shop for any concerned citizen. This affects everybody, not just the rich.” Though most victims were seniors, Davis says this is not a crime of elder abuse. “This man was in operation for 30 years. His clients were my age when he gained their trust, which grew over the years. Jones knew that over time these people would be vulnerable and elderly – he had a long-term strategy.”

The West Island Community Resource Centre and Sun Youth are working together to provide immediate practical help to victims. As well, emotional support is available at local CLSCs, says Brigit Ritzhaupt, program manager for adult mental health services at the CSSS Ouest de l’Isle.

“We have short-term counseling, spread over six to eight sessions, or long-term counseling. I know that some of the victims have come to terms with their anger and loss. They’ve looked at how they have coped in the past while at the same time looking at their strengths and taking charge once again.”

However, healing may take much longer for some, says Anne Davidson, director of the West Island Community Resource Services. “This debacle is a reminder that many older people do not have their families around because they moved away to explore a broader spectrum of opportunities,” she wrote in the West Island edition of The Gazette.

She invites Montrealers to continue reaching out to the victims, some of whom are struggling to maintain their most basic needs. “There are so many ways people can help. They can offer a service if they can’t offer money. We have some people who need medical equipment so they can stay in their home, people unable to keep dentist appointments because they have no cash. Similarly, they can’t afford glasses or go to medical appointments. We have a multitude of needs – right now some can’t pay for their groceries.”

Davidson says many are in crisis situations that could last up to a year. “A lot of the victims need advocacy. They say they’re ‘OK’, but they’re really not. Some are holding back; they don’t really believe they’re that badly off yet. It’s summertime and the harshness of reality is always less in summer. It hasn’t hit them yet.”

Reach the West Island Community Resource Centre at 514-694-6404 and Sun Youth at 514-842-6404.



At September 10, 2009 at 5:35 PM , Anonymous susan.brown01 said...

Winter is coming and the long nights and cold days will put some of these victims into a serious depression. If you know someone who has been touched by this fraud, just give them a few minutes of your time. Give them a call and brighten up their day.


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