Gilles Saucier faces up to 2.5 years in prison

Gilles Saucier walks out of the Cornwall courthouse in this December 2018, file photo. Saucier faces up to 2.5 years in prison when he is sentenced next month. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

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CORNWALL – Disgraced former Cornwall financial advisor Gilles Saucier could be facing up to 2.5 years in prison when a judge delivers her decision next month.

Laurie Lacelle heard submissions on an appropriate sentence from the Crown and defence today (Friday) after Saucier was found guilty on 33 investment-related charges of fraud, theft, misappropriation of funds and forgery.

The former president of the now-defunct Gilden Financial Solutions was convicted in December of shady investment dealings with 10 of his clients over several years.

Saucier will only be sentenced on 14 of those charges – 10 counts of fraud and four counts of forgery – due to the 1975 Supreme Court of Canada ruling Keinapple v. R. The so-called Keinapple principle says a person facing multiple convictions, cannot be convicted of two offences that arise out of the same facts.

The Crown is seeking 2.5 years in prison while the defence is asking for a sentence that does “not involve any jail.”

Crown attorney Michael Purcell argued for 2.5 years plus a lifetime ban for Saucier to work or be involved in affairs dealing with real property or money.

Purcell said Saucier “preyed upon” the older, vulnerable victims and used the money for himself. It wasn’t until each of the 10 victims confronted him that the money was returned, Purcell explained. In at least a couple of the cases, Purcell equated the actions to “elder abuse.”

Purcell also explained there were no arguments to give a more lenient sentence because “significant resources” of the court had been used in a 25-day trial, plus there has been no indication of remorse from Saucier.

Defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon called the case “unprecedented” and noted that there was no previous cases on file (case law) where the victims had all their money returned, plus extra money equivalent to interest, before charges were laid.

“Not one (of the victims) lost any money,” Greenspon stated. “The only one out of pocket was Mr. Saucier,” referring to his client’s payment of fines out of Gilden Financial Solutions’ general account for life insurance policies that went into default in order to cover up any problems.

All the clients got their money back – except one who was out $0.43.

But Crown attorney Purcell said the client’s money “was lost for that period of time” while Saucier’s pockets were “flush with money of his clients.” Purcell added that returning the funds was no indication of remorse.

Greenspon also took exception to Purcell’s descriptive words of “preyed upon” and “elder abuse,” noting that those were never uttered by the judge during the judgment in December.

The defence lawyer also found it surprising that the Crown didn’t cite another similar local case of a disgraced financial advisor – Gilles Latour. Greenspon said, in that case, victims were out hundreds of thousands of dollars and Latour received two years after pleading guilty to eight counts of fraud and one count of uttering a forged document.

“All of the individuals are out hundreds of thousands of dollars but because Mr. Latour pled guilty, the Crown seeks a sentence lesser than what they’re seeking in this case before you. In my submission, that doesn’t make good sense,” Greenspon said.

He said that Latour’s sentence of two years would be “above and beyond” what should be sought in the Saucier case.

Greenspon asked for a sentence not involving jail because his client is a first time offender and that general deterrence had been meted out through extensive media coverage. “This part of Ontario is well aware of both the charges, the nature of the evidence, and the findings of your honour, has resulted in Mr. Saucier effectively being exiled from his community as well as his occupation.”

Greenspon disagreed with the lifetime ban for working or volunteering in a capacity involving money or real property, arguing that it amounted to “permanent economic exile” for his client, who has worked his entire adult life in the financial services industry and is only 58 years old.

Judge Lacelle will deliver her decision in mid-June.

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