Singing fraudster John Hillary McLeod hopes to avoid jail
Convicted of bilking Chinese immigrant of cash, man hopes to sell a song for restitution money
A Saskatoon country songwriter is hoping one of his tunes will help keep him out of jail.
John Hillary McLeod faces a potential stint behind bars after he was convicted of defrauding a Chinese immigrant in Saskatoon of almost $200,000.
On his webpage, McLeod describes himself as a former bush pilot from The Pas, Man., who began pursuing a music career full time in 2006 after triple-bypass surgery.
He has recorded two albums and made music videos to promote singles such as Lazy Vampire.
"John McLeod came across a woman, a Chinese immigrant, new to the country," Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter said in an interview.
"She speaks English, but does not read or write English. He befriended her and convinced her that she could invest with him in a scheme to buy land from Hutterites, flip the land and make quite a bit of profit."
I have never heard of anyone saying they'll sell a song to pay back the victim of a crime.- Robin Ritter
Ritter said that, over the course of a year, McLeod kept taking the money from the woman on the pretext he needed it to develop the land.
After getting more than $140,000, he persuaded her to spend another $50,000 to buy him a new Chrysler.
"He said he could get her money back if she would buy him a car so that he could go and get her money," Ritter said.
The land deal never happened, however, and McLeod was eventually charged with two counts of fraud — for the money and for the car. He was convicted on both counts at trial.
Freedom for a song
Ritter said McLeod has about $54,000 available now to pay back the victim. He said restitution is always a significant factor in coming up with a sentence.
In this case, the judge gave McLeod this week to raise more money for his victim. He proposed selling one of his songs to raise the cash.
He'll be back in court this Friday to learn his fate. Ritter has asked for a sentence behind bars.