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Victims of Earl Jones, now poorer than ever, continue their fight

March, 2011

One year after white-collar criminal Earl Jones was convicted of devastating the lives of more than 150 people, the Victims of Earl Jones Organizing Committee, created by the victims’ children, continues to fight for justice.

With Bill C-59 having gone through the House of Commons February 15, the group is major step closer to that goal. The bill would abolish early parole for non-violent first-time offenders, and with it the possibility that Jones would be eligible for day parole by December.

“There is a large public outcry,” says Joey Davis, a founding member of the committee. “In December, Jones will be eligible for accelerated parole review, or APR. He would stand a good chance of getting it the first time. Since he is deemed non-violent and was a good boy in prison, he could get out.”

Convicted former Norbourg president Vincent Lacroix, who defrauded thousands of investors of $100 million benefited from APR. He was released January 27 after 16 months of a 13 year sentence.

While the committee applauds this development, Davis says the concept of white-collar crime needs redefinition. “The Conservatives brought this bill forward. They used it as a political weapon to get ‘tough on crime.’ Because white-collar crime and fraud are categorized as non-violent, we have to recategorize white-collar crime. It’s now a whole grab bag of crime, $500 or lifetime savings, it’s the same crime in the eyes of the law. It’s the big-name fraudsters who ruin the chances of others who can legitimately benefit from early parole and rehabilitation.”

Though the bill was contested (it passed third reading by a vote of 184 to 105), none of the parties questioned the need to get tough on white-collar criminals, only the necessity of getting rid of early parole across the board, Davis says.

Advocating for the victims on other fronts, the Committee launched a class-action suit against the Royal Bank of Canada. “It’s a civil motion class-action suit — as a group we are suing the RBC for damages for $40 million for negligence and willful blindness,” Davis says. The suit alleges Jones used his personal bank account as a false in-trust account to access his victims’ savings, forging clients’ signatures for years. Ironically, victims have been paying income tax on fictitious interest, which had actually been withdrawn from their accounts by Jones. The committee is working with the provincial and federal government to seek restitution.

“There is no law in the tax code of Canada that deals with crime victims of fraud,” Davis says. “There is no rule in the book that says the government has to pay it back. We’ve worked out a ruling from the court that would allow both tax departments to refund victims lost income tax.”

After two years, Davis’s mother, Margaret Davis, is still adjusting to a life of unexpected hardship. “The first year wasn’t too bad because Sun Youth was helping us with food vouchers every month,” she said. “This year is extremely difficult, I will not sugar-coat it. I have a little shelf where I save pennies, coins, in rollers. It’s the hardest time I’ve ever had in all my life. I’m 80 now and just have to keep going.”

At Jones’s sentencing, the committee wanted to read a statement, but was refused.

“We were denied the opportunity,” Davis said. “This is why we go public, speak to the media and do demonstrations — so that our voices will be heard.”



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