Ottawa

'I'm not hiding,' suspended Rockland lawyer says

Images shared on social media showing suspended Rockland, Ont., lawyer Stéphane Langlois living and working in the Dominican Republic have enraged some of his former clients, who altogether lost an estimated $3.5 million from trust accounts he managed.

Stéphane Langlois living, working in Dominican Republic, enraging former clients who lost millions

Photos of suspended Rockland, Ont., lawyer Stéphane Langlois living and working in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, recently appeared on social media, enraging some former clients. (Facebook)

Images shared on social media showing suspended Rockland, Ont., lawyer Stéphane Langlois living and working in the Dominican Republic have enraged some of his former clients, who altogether lost an estimated $3.5 million from trust accounts he managed.

But Langlois, 47, said he's done nothing wrong.

"I'm not hiding, I'm not running away," said Langlois by phone from Punta Cana. 

"I have a passport, I'm allowed to travel."

Langlois is the focus of investigations by the Ontario Provincial Police and the Law Society of Ontario. 

They began in 2016, after employees of his firm Charron Langlois LLP contacted the society to look into the state of the firm's trust accounts.

The law society suspended his licence after an investigator found accounts that should have held nearly $4 million in trust for several clients had dwindled to $220,000.

The Law Society provides some limited compensation in such cases, but has yet to conclude a single claim by more than a dozen former clients. 

Meanwhile, the police probe is ongoing.

"These investigations take a long time," said André Duval, an OPP investigator with the anti-rackets unit.

Duval said he can't determine when or even if the case will lead to charges.

Until a warrant is issued, suspects are allowed to come and go as they please, Duval said.

New wife, new life

Since the investigations began, Langlois has spent most of his time outside the country with his new wife, Katrina Langlois.

The couple has travelled to Russia, where she's from, and more recently to the Dominican Republic.

A recent advertising article in a Punta Cana publication profiled Katerina Langlois as the owner of the restaurant.  

"In addition to having a new restaurant, The Loft, with her husband, [she] also runs a travel agency," according to the article in Best of Punta Cana, dated Nov. 10.

The article was no longer available on the website Friday morning, with a "page not found" message in its place.

The restaurant's Facebook page attracted posts from angry eastern Ontario residents, including alleged victims of the missing trust fund money.

Some suggested the suspended lawyer has escaped responsibility.

Langlois denies he and his wife own the restaurant, claiming they help manage it for a friend. 

The restaurant's Facebook page has also since been removed.

'It disgusts me'

For former clients such as Jocelyn Levac, watching his former lawyer start a new life in Punta Cana opens old wounds.

"It's not just frustration anymore, it's nausea," Levac said in French during a phone interview.

The Alfred, Ont., farmer said he feels like the justice system has let him down.

He said he has yet to see any compensation from his claim for some of the $800,000 he said was held in trust by Langlois's firm.

"It disgusts me," he said.

'Sometimes you f--k up'

Langlois takes issue with the way he's been portrayed on social media.

"Sometimes you f--k up, but who are they to judge?" said Langlois.

He said while he sympathizes with former clients, no one should draw any conclusions about his part in the missing money until the investigation is complete. 

Langlois said his parents and his three children, who remain in Rockland, have suffered harassment because of the allegations against him.

He said he's cooperating fully with both the police and law society investigators, and will defend himself against the multiple lawsuits that have been launched against him since he had his licence suspended.