Former Montreal financial adviser Earl Jones was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Monday, after pleading guilty to two fraud charges related to his $50-million Ponzi scheme.
At least 100 people, many of them victims, crowded into the Montreal courthouse for his sentencing and spared no words after the half-hour hearing.
"He can rot in hell," said Bevan Jones of his brother, who bilked him and nearly 150 other investors of their personal savings with a massive Ponzi scheme that spanned more than 20 years.
'None of us will ever be the same.' —Bevan Jones, Earl Jones's brother
Crown prosecutors and Jones's lawyer jointly recommended a sentence of 11 years, which Judge Hélène Morin handed down.
"The accused not only robbed the victims of their money, he robbed them of their freedom and self-esteem and of a decent life they expected in their retirement," Morin said in her comments before delivering the sentence.
"All of them trusted him. For many, this word has no meaning anymore. He is responsible for irrevocable changes in all the victims' lives and this has left them all humiliated."
Jones never invested a cent of the money he collected from his former clients, the Quebec court heard during the criminal proceedings against him.
The $50-million swindle cost many people their life savings and none of the money has been recovered.
Many victims are pleased at how quickly the case worked its way through the Quebec legal system, CBC reporter Justin Hayward said.
The victims wanted to see Jones severely punished, said Christiane Jackson, who lost more than $1,000,000 of her family money to the Montreal adviser.
"I don't want him to be out on the street starting again his Ponzi scheme, which he is very capable of because he realized how easy it was."
Victims want to sue bank for damages
So many of Jones' victims and their loved ones were in attendance Monday that courthouse officials needed a second room for the overflow crowd.
Some of the victims included Jones's own relatives, who are no longer speaking to him.
"None of us will ever be the same," said Bevan Jones who, along with his wife Frances Gordon, was fleeced out of $1 million by his brother. Jones said he would never forgive him for what he'd done.
Both Jones and his financial-services company have been declared bankrupt. He's been shunned not only by his friends and relatives, but his wife Maxine has also filed for divorce.
The provincial police and a bankruptcy trustee spent months going over the books and were able to agree on a conservative estimate of about $51.3 million taken between 1982 and 2009. But it's unclear exactly how many people lost money to the scam over the decades.
The victims announced earlier this month that they will seek the right to sue a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada for allegedly allowing Jones to carry out his crimes, by turning a blind eye to his dubious accounting and business practices.
None of the claims against the Royal Bank have been proven in court and a judge must still authorize the request for the suit.