B.C. 'con man' facing fraud charges in N.L.
Tim Drummond has checkered business history on west coast
A man described by a British Columbia Supreme Court judge as a “con man” is now facing fraud charges in Newfoundland and Labrador, CBC Investigates has learned.
In 2008, that judge wrote that Tim Drummond is “amoral” and “deceitful.”
Drummond, now 67, also has a previous conviction for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the West Vancouver Boy Scouts’ Christmas tree fund in the 1990s.
He now faces two counts of fraud over $5,000 in Newfoundland and Labrador provincial court.
According to court documents, those charges are related to allegations that he defrauded a property management company.
Trina and John Curtis hired the company to rent their Conception Bay South home a few years ago while they were living in Australia.
Drummond and his partner started renting the property in the spring of 2012.
“So we had nothing to doubt at the start.”
About a year later, the Curtises say Drummond told them he was interested in buying their home.
They said they didn't want to sell, but the offers kept getting better and better.
"He came back probably five or six times, each time, incrementally bringing it up," said John Curtis.
Drummond finally reached an amount that the Curtises couldn't refuse: $2 million.
"When we finally decided, 'OK, we'll sell,' that's when he started talking about the overseas bank accounts," said Trina Curtis.
The Curtises say it was around that time that Drummond and his partner stopped paying rent — giving different and increasingly dramatic reasons for the delays.
"[He] was getting gravely ill. Apparently, he was having to fly to Toronto for [lung surgery] because he was on his deathbed. And his partner was, she was in the hospital," said John Curtis.
"I consider myself relatively street-smart ... It's just amazing how intricate his path and his story was."
When we finally decided, 'OK, we'll sell,' that's when he started talking about the overseas bank accounts.- Trina Curtis
Finally, last August, the Curtises had Drummond and his family evicted from the property.
They say the Drummond family had lived there for free for six months — and owed them more than $10,000.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary later filed fraud charges. Drummond is due back in St. John's provincial court on June 11.
But this isn't the first time he’s been accused of questionable business transactions.
Copper mine controversy
The small community of Britannia Beach, B.C., about an hour north of Vancouver, was built around a large copper mine, the Britannia Mine, which closed in 1974.
In the late 1970s, Copper Beach Estates Ltd. (CBEL) purchased the mine. A few years later, Tim Drummond was named as a director.
For years, the derelict mine was mired in controversy.
During most of the 1990s, Drummond served as the company’s sole director.
He developed a proposal to use Britannia’s open mining pits as dumping grounds for contaminated landfill — which would help pay for a treatment plant. But ultimately, the plan never proceeded.
Others worried about their investments in the property. In 1999, CBEL was being sued by, or suing, a long list of businesses and individuals.
"There are several people that are upset with Mr. Drummond," John Werring, a Sierra Legal Defence Fund representative, told CBC News in 1999.
"They've invested in ventures that he has proposed in the past, and they've lost their money."
Drummond was never found liable in relation to any of those court actions.
In the early 2000s, the mortgage holder foreclosed and took possession of the property. The new owner transferred a portion of the mine lands to the B.C. government, and the site was cleaned up in 2005.
Stealing from Scouts
While he was entangled in the mine controversy, other problems emerged.
In the 1990s, Drummond spent several years volunteering with the West Vancouver Cubs and Scouts.
In 1999, he was charged with misappropriating $44,625 from the group. The Crown accused Drummond of endorsing 23 cheques to a business associate from January 1996 to February 1997. The Crown alleged that he had the money funnelled back to his bank account.
Drummond later pleaded guilty. In 2001, he was handed a one-year conditional sentence.
During sentencing, Drummond told the judge he would send a letter of apology to the Scouts.
"I regret this incident deeply," he said, according to a 2001 Vancouver Sun news article.
B.C. Supreme Court case
Valerie Greenwood, a business associate, repaid most of the money from the Scouts case.
She testified in a separate court case in 2008 that Drummond owed her nearly $2 million.
Greenwood brought proof to court of $800,000 in payments that she made for his legal fees and personal expenses, including everything from his rent, his phone bills — even his parking tickets.
In terms of the alleged $2-million debt to Greenwood, Drummond testified: “It was not that much.”
Greenwood wasn't the only person with a tale of woe in that matter. Others told similar stories of being taken in by Drummond.
I find the defendant is a con man and a compulsive liar.- Justice Paul Williamson
After all of the testimony, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Paul Williamson made his own conclusions.
In his decision, Williamson wrote that Drummond is "a con man and a compulsive liar."
To reach that decision, the judge said he considered "the staggeringly long list of complicated lies" that Drummond told.
Drummond had said that his brother had died when his car overturned in England. "This is not true," the judge wrote.
Drummond also said that he had cancer, to which the judge found: "In fact, he did not have leukemia."
Drummond told tales of working for CSIS — stories the judge said remain “unsubstantiated."
Drummond also spoke of the Drummond Family Trust in the United Kingdom and a family castle in Scotland. The judge found that “no such trust existed,” and the castle "turned out to be non-existent," too.
Drummond told elaborate stories about the death of his two sons — one in a skiing accident, the other whose body was found on train tracks near Kamloops, B.C. The judge found that "all of this was not true," and that both sons were in fact "still alive."
The judge wrote that when he was cross-examined at length, Drummond acknowledged that most of his stories were lies.
The judge said: “He justified them by testifying that his motive was ‘to buy some time’ or to achieve ‘flexibility.’”
But Drummond also said that he was a changed man.
The judge noted that Drummond did offer “an apology of sorts, and admitted he had been wrong. But he appeared unconcerned about the fact that he had repeatedly lied, and uncomprehending about the havoc he has wreaked in many people’s lives.”
Driving Ms. Daisy
A year after the ruling in that case, in 2009, Leslie Carper says Drummond met her grandmother in Vancouver, and started helping the elderly woman out.
"He called it 'Driving Ms. Daisy,' and grandmother would pay for fuel, meals, and whatnot, and he would take her to different places," Carper said.
But Carper says her grandmother started to develop dementia, and in 2010 the elderly woman moved to Newfoundland to be closer to family.
Drummond helped her with the move, and later he would make the same move himself.
Carper says her grandmother's house was on the market in B.C. for over $1 million.
"[Drummond] did set up the arrangements to have her house sold and cleaned out," Carper said.
Carper says much of that money has gone missing. She doesn't know the exact amount, but claims it's well over $500,000.
And she alleges that her grandmother had other accounts the family simply cannot find.
In her opinion, Drummond is responsible.
"Basically, he somehow managed to drain our grandmother's bank accounts and used her credit cards," Carper suspects.
She says her grandmother may have to move to a cheaper personal care home.
"[My grandmother] shouldn't have had to have worried about that. She had plenty of money to cover her expenses — but he changed that."
Carper says the family has complained to the RCMP in British Columbia, and the RNC in St. John's. But no charges have been laid and no lawsuits have been started.
Drummond has a history of financial problems.
He first filed for bankruptcy in 1987, for debts totalling more than $1 million. He was discharged a year later.
Drummond filed again in 2011, and is still on the hook for the $60,000 owed.
CBC Investigates has spoken with several people who have had dealings with Drummond since his arrival in Newfoundland a few years ago.
They say he's been busy during that time trying to get development projects off the ground.
CBC Investigates made repeated attempts to contact Tim Drummond, but those messages weren't returned.
Looking for accountability
Meanwhile, John and Trina Curtis are resigned to the fact they probably won't get their money back.
But they say they hope Drummond will be held accountable.
"This guy needs to be stopped in his tracks, now,” John Curtis said.
“His day of reckoning is now, and he should never, ever, ever be allowed to con any more people.”