Nfld. & Labrador

Faked own death, 'chronic con man' sent to N.L. jail

A Newfoundland and Labrador judge on Friday handed a jail sentence to a man who had led his own family to believe he was dead.

A Newfoundland and Labrador judge on Friday handed a jail sentence to a man who had led his own family to believe he was dead.

Bruce Leyte, who had left a suicide note in an abandoned truck by the Humber River in 2006, was sentenced to 23 months in jail, during a hearing at Corner Brook provincial court.

Judge Kymil Howe described Leyte as a "chronic con man," and said that his behaviour was reprehensible.

While sentencing Leyte, Howe spoke of the pain and grief that Leyte's family experienced, and that of the person who had to tell them that he was presumed to have died almost three years ago.

Leyte was charged with mischief last November after the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary found him living in an apartment in a quiet St. John's neighbourhood. He was later transferred to Corner Brook, where he has been held since.  

Leyte, 57, was convicted of 12 separate counts, including public mischief, fraud over $5,000 and uttering forged documents.

Leyte vanished on Aug. 18, 2006, when volunteer search teams began dragging the Humber River for a body, on the assumption that Leyte had killed himself. Two months earlier, Leyte had been found guilty of tax evasion.

Howe also ordered to repay the Bank of Nova Scotia more than $40,000, which relates to a case that predated his disappearance.

Leyte showed no visible reaction while Howe sentenced him, and said nothing as he was taken from the courtroom to his cell.

Leyte's story attracted national attention — and caught the eye of a former business partner in British Columbia, who recognized Leyte as a man who called himself Fred James Royual.

RCMP in Lumby, B.C., subsequently charged Leyte with two counts of fraud, two counts of false pretence and one count of impersonation. Those charges have not yet been dealt with.

Leyte's lawyer told CBC News that a decision has not been made on an appeal, but said that it is not likely.