South Glengarry man found not guilty in mailing smear campaign

The front entrance to the Ontario and Superior Courts of Justice on Second Street West in Cornwall, Ont. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – A South Glengarry man has been found not guilty in a mail “campaign of terror” to destroy the reputation of a local financial planner.

But Ryan Flaro, 45, was found guilty on two less serious charges and sentenced April 21 for two breaches of court orders related to the case.

Flaro had been charged with criminal harassment, making forged documents and careless storage of a firearm, after 550 packages of fake court documents were mailed to people in Ontario and Quebec in 2019 about Cornwall financial planner Troy Lalonde.

A co-accused in the case, Allison Dent of St. Lambert, Que., was convicted last month on a charge of defamatory libel and given a conditional sentence of a year and a half. Court documents show Dent has already filed an appeal with the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Court heard Dent had been in a relationship with Flaro while in the midst of an “ugly (child) custody battle” with her husband, Lalonde.

In Flaro’s case, Judge Deborah Kinsella ruled in late March there were other plausible explanations as of why Flaro would provide a transcript to Dent that was later doctored by someone. That gave rise to reasonable doubt in the circumstantial evidence in the Crown’s case.

“There is no doubt that he (Flaro) provided the original transcript, that was eventually altered, to Ms. Dent. The difficulty with all the inferences the Crown asks the court to draw is that not one of them allows for a conclusion that Mr. Flaro was in possession of sufficient information to be aware of the type of crime being committed and know ‘the circumstances necessary to constitute the offence,’” Kinsella ruled.

“There are a number of other reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the evidence and which provide alternative explanations that point to Mr. Flaro’s innocence as it relates to the mailings,” she explained.

On the most serious charges, Kinsella also ruled the testimony from most of the witnesses during the 17-day trial was problematic.

The Crown withdrew the firearm charge after the judge ruled the OPP had violated Flaro’s Charter rights.

As for the two breach of recognizance charges, Flaro was convicted on a breach of being within a certain distance of his neighbours, Greg and Heather Malyon, and the other breach for being in contact with another party to the case.

He was fined a total of $5,000 plus the victim fine surcharges. Flaro also has to submit a DNA sample and will be a probation for three years.

The Crown said the maximum probation will afford the greatest protection to the Malyons.

When asked if he would like to address the court, Flaro declined. But when asked if he understood the sentence and the conditions of probation he said “Yes, your honour. Yes, I do your honour.”

Flaro is still facing two other charges of failing to comply with a release order and harassment that are scheduled to go to trial in April 2023.

The Crown has also sought to collect some or all of the bail money for the breach charges.