$1M fraud sentencing of ex-investment dealer adjourned

The sentencing of a former Moncton investment dealer who bilked about $1 million from clients in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island has been adjourned until March 11.

Darlene Ford misappropriated funds from clients in New Brunswick and P.E.I.

The sentencing of a former Moncton investment dealer who bilked about $1 million from clients in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island has been adjourned once again.

Darlene Catherine Ford, who previously pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud, will remain in custody until her sentencing on March 11.

The Crown is seeking a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine, while the defence has recommended a sentence of three years, minus time she has already served on remand.

Ford, who used to go by her married name, Ryan, apologized to the community, her clients and her family during her court appearance in Moncton on Wednesday.

She worked with Scotia Capital in Moncton from 1999 until 2010, when she was asked to leave for irregularities in her own account.

The company then looked into her clients' accounts and discovered $1.3 million was missing.

Ford was making unauthorized withdrawals from five of her clients' accounts, forging signatures and shuffling money from one account to another, the provincial courtroom heard.

Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock called it a "shell game."

As an investment advisor, Ford had access to her clients' bank accounts, investments and stock portfolios, said Lamrock.

Ford made up email accounts and walked to the store to fax documents to herself so she could make it look like clients were giving her permission for her to move their money around, the prosecutor said.

Ford took more than $100,000 from one client, Barbara Leblanc, of Moncton, and lesser amounts from the other four — one from Moncton, one from Shediac and two from Prince Edward Island.

Most of the affected clients were elderly, Lamrock said.

Arrested in U.S.

She was arrested in the United States in May and was deported back to Canada in September.

Ford was previously scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 16, but the hearing was adjourned until Wednesday because a pre-sentence report had not been completed, as ordered.

Ford had also been registered as an investment dealer in Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Alberta, but was permanently barred in June after being found guilty of fraud by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, which regulates investment dealers in Canada.

She was also fined $1 million by the IIROC and ordered to pay $7,500 in costs.

The IIROC had held a disciplinary hearing in March, looking into accusations that Ford had misappropriated funds from her clients.

The organization said some of the money went to Ford's friends, a former co-worker and a cousin.

About $176,000 was used to make payments on a CIBC Visa gold card, the group had said.