Talent agent Linda Buchanan pleads guilty to fraud, theft
Collected fees for fashion trade shows that never happened
The long and complicated legal saga of Linda Buchanan is coming to an end as the former head of a Halifax modelling agency pleaded guilty to fraud and theft on Tuesday.
Buchanan, who had been facing a total of 26 charges — some dating back to 2010 — pleaded guilty in Halifax provincial court to one count of fraud, four counts of theft and one count of breach of probation.
Just as a five-day trial was supposed to begin, Buchanan's lawyer huddled with the Crown prosecutor to hammer out a last-minute deal.
"We came to a compromise and Ms. Buchanan decided to accept responsibility," Lyle Howe, her lawyer, said outside court
"This isn't something that comes easy. There's a lot of back and forth between the Crown attorney and defence counsel."
Howe said his client was disputing some of the Crown's position as the negotiations began.
"It's really a process," Howe said. "Sometimes it takes until this point before we can work our way through this process and decide the best course of action."
Buchanan is to be sentenced on April 7.
Howe said he expects there will be a joint sentencing recommendation from him and the Crown. He said his client should not serve jail time.
"I think it's appropriate that there's a non-custodial sentence, no question," he said.
History of fraud
The last complaints against Buchanan happened in the summer of 2012, when she claimed to be organizing a series of fashion trade shows across the country.
According to her website, Buchanan planned shows in Saanich and Prince George in British Columbia, Winnipeg and Whitehorse. One was promised for Moncton but was never scheduled.
CBC News contacted the operators of the venues in each of these communities where the festival was scheduled. They said the events never happened because Buchanan didn't pay her deposit in time.
Don MacKinnon, president of the Atlantic Canadian branch of the Better Business Bureau, said his organization received a number of complaints.
"The pattern of complaints in the trade shows is usually they stretch them right across a country or North America and book them at various sites and then keep selling them, I guess in the hopes they can sell enough in each of the areas before they get caught up to," he said.
Court was told Tuesday that the fees Buchanan collected for these trade shows were used to pay her own living expenses.
In April 2010, Buchanan was convicted of defrauding a Lunenburg bank, admitting to bouncing a cheque for $17,000 three years before.
The breach of probation charge she pleaded guilty to stems from this conviction.