Manitoba

Former Blue Bomber sentenced to 6 years for fraud, forged documents

CFL veteran David Pitcher sentenced to 6 years fraud and uttering forged documents

Court hears "very well may be the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of Manitoba"

Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber David Pitcher, shown here in a CBC News story from August 1997, was sentenced to six years in prison for fraud and uttering forged documents. (CBC)

A former Winnipeg Blue Bomber was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay back about $5.5 million for orchestrating what is being described as potentially Manitoba's largest Ponzi scheme.  

"I would offer to all the victims my sincere apology," Pitcher told court.

Court heard that 47-year-old David Pitcher received $12.8 million by convincing people to invest in his non-profit company, Community Endowment Fund.  Pitcher promised generous returns and help for less-fortunate youth.

Pitcher produced false documents such as loan agreements and promissory notes to ensure investors that federal funding was on the way, and that he was seeking private bridge funding in the meantime.

In some cases, investors were told the money would help communities in the north or go towards developing a wake board park. At least one investor said he trusted Pitcher because of his career as a pro football player. Court heart the scheme was based on Pitcher's "persona of trustworthiness" and the "trusting nature" of his investors.

The non-profit offered no programming for at-risk youth during the seven years Pitcher ran the scheme, between 2005 and 2012.  

Money used to buy boat and Kingston Row house

While some money was used to pay back investors, Pitcher also used money to support his lifestyle, including paying for an $80,000 boat, $32,000 engagement ring, a house on Kingston Row and a boat house near Kenora.

While some investors got their principal back, plus interest, to the tune of about $8.9 million, others did not. Court heard one company lost more than $5 million.

The scheme first came to the attention of police in 2009 and then in 2012, when one of the investors reported he was being defrauded. Charges were laid in 2013.

David Pitcher pleaded guilty last July to seven counts of fraud over $5,000 and 10 counts of uttering forged documents. Provincial court judge Cynthia Devine accepted the six year sentence as a joint recommendation.

Pitcher played for the both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 1990s.

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