More allegations against well-dressed 'professional tenant' James Regan, but no charges
People say Regan didn't pay for furniture, didn't return a new car and used credit card without permission
As allegations pile up against a "well-coiffed" man who hasn't paid rent at three high-end Toronto apartments, some wonder why he hasn't been charged.
- 'Professional tenant' accused of failing to pay for more than just apartment
- Rent-free: Well-dressed 'professional tenant' won't leave Toronto apartment
The people James Regan is alleged to have scammed want him behind bars. Instead, he continues to live in a Yorkville home where he hasn't paid rent since moving in July 1.
On Monday, CBC News reported that along with the disputes with landlords, James Regan is alleged to have not paid for $18,000 worth of furniture, not returned a new car to a dealership after his credit application failed, and charged more than $700 to a man's credit card without permission.
In each case, Toronto police were contacted and in each case it was determined to be a civil matter.
At this time, police are not planning to investigate the allegations any further.
Regan, who has spoken with CBC News, has denied any wrongdoing.
Det. Alan Spratt with the Toronto police financial crimes unit defines fraud as when "someone obtains a good or service through some type of dishonesty."
Spratt, who did not investigate any of the allegations against Regan, also says fraud is one of the most difficult charges to prove.
"Just a lack of payment in itself doesn't prove the person was being deceitful," Spratt said in an interview.
Intent difficult to prove, detective says
Not following through on an agreement to pay someone is rarely enough for a fraud charge, Spratt says. Fraud requires the accused having the intent not to pay from the beginning.
In order to proceed with charges, police need proof.
"The difficulty is to prove that. That they had that plan, that intent," Spratt said. "There's what the complainant believes, which may be reality, but there's what we can prove, and that's what we have to work with."
Spratt says even if the accused has a criminal record, it's still difficult for police to lay charges.
"It's not necessarily available to us as evidence," Spratt said, because of the rights an accused person has to be presumed innocent.
Prior cases not taken into account
The previous behaviour of someone accused of fraud cannot be taken into account in court, Spratt said, because of laws in place to protect citizens from being wrongfully convicted. A bad track record, a history or pattern of fraud cannot be used to prove an offence against the accused.
"The general principle is that a jury could maybe be swayed [to assume] the person did it in the past, they must be guilty this time, rather than examining the evidence for the allegation this time. There's a danger there that people could be wrongfully convicted."
Terry Finlay, a furniture store owner who says Regan owes him $18,000, told CBC News that the two initially agreed to a payment plan after Regan picked out and bought several pieces of furniture from his store on New Year's Day in 2015.
On delivery day, Finlay says Regan, who had told him he was a lawyer, was rushing out the door for a meeting with a "sports figure at the Air Canada Centre."
Regan promised to deliver cheques the next day, but that never happened, Finlay says, and the excuses continued.
After Finlay threatened to go to the police, he says Regan dropped off postdated cheques from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. But when Finlay tried to cash the first one, he found a stop payment order had been put on it.
There is a loophole there, definitely.- Detective Allan Spratt, Toronto's financial crimes unit
According to Spratt, many would-be fraudsters are aware that if it appears that they are willing to make their payments, later on, it is difficult to legally prove that it was their intent or plan all along not to pay.
"Suspects who are aware of that and aware of loopholes will use that system and will go ahead and do things intentionally," said Spratt. "So there is a loophole there, definitely."
Finlay says Regan has had the furniture for more than 18 months and has yet to pay a dime.
Because the furniture was delivered willingly to Regan's apartment, it cannot be considered a theft.
Spratt says that because of the high burden of proof criminal courts have for cases of fraud, police will often recommend that complainants pursue civil lawsuits as means to recover their losses.
"One thing I often tell people is not to confuse niceness with goodness," Spratt said. "Most successful con artists or fraudsters are persuasive…they're smooth. That's how they gain trust of victims to go ahead and do their scheme."
Regan refused to respond to Finlay's allegations and the police report, although CBC News contacted him about them several times.