The million dollar swindle in Kindersley, Sask.
Case features Hells Angels, Florida land-flipping and a luxury cottage in B.C.
If nothing else, Joshua Douglas Johnston had nerve.
The 36-year-old had pleaded guilty in late 2014 to bilking 13 people in Kindersley of $1.1 million in a complex real estate scam.
After pleading guilty, he convinced a judge to give him four months to try and raise some money to help out his victims.
Johnston used the time to travel to British Columbia and steal another $110,000 – by selling a Shuswap Lake cottage that he didn't own.
The full details of Johnson's wheeling and dealing are in a provincial court judgement from a month ago.
The silence of the lambs
Perhaps not surprisingly, Johnston's victims are not eager to talk. There is financial loss and embarrassment because, as the sentencing decision notes, Johnston used friends, family and churchgoers to gain the trust of community members in the Kindersley area.
The main victim – who lost more than half a million dollars – told CBC that "that part of my life is over, I'm moving on."
Payments to the Hell's Angels … were as a result of fear and extortion once certain members found out he had large amounts of money available to him.- Judge Robert Jackson
Judge Robert Jackson wrote that Johnston hooked investors over two years with a scheme to buy land in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Florida and then re-sell the properties at a substantial profit.
"The accused however, as soon became apparent, was simply conning all the investors," wrote Jackson.
"The accused by calculated and clever design was able to structure a direct conduit from the pockets of the innocents to his own to maintain an opulent lifestyle."
The Hells Angels come knocking
Johnston filtered the money through some 42 different companies belonging to himself, friends and his limited companies.
Unfortunately, for Johnston, some of his friends were former associates in the Calgary chapter of the Hells Angels.
"Payments to the Hell's Angels … were as a result of fear and extortion once certain members found out he had large amounts of money available to him," the judgement said.
A cottage industry
At one point, Johnston had used the stolen money to try to buy a luxury cottage on Shuswap Lake in British Columbia.
That deal fell through, but the owner still let him periodically stay at the property.
Johnston was at that cottage after pleading guilty to initial charges of defrauding the Kindersley investors.
That's when he convinced neighbours that he actually owned the cottage – and wanted to sell it at a reduced price.
That netted him another $110,000, and another set of fraud charges.
The bills come due
The original investors eventually tired of no returns and Johnston's excuses. The police became involved and their investigation led to the charges to which Johnston pleaded guilty.
The judge had hard words for Johnston at sentencing.
"As far as Mr. Johnston learning his lesson is concerned, his actions demonstrate the opposite," he wrote.
Johnston was sentenced December 30 to five years in a federal penitentiary.
He was also given a ten-year ban on doing any sort of real estate deal.