Col. Macleod descendant gets 4.5 years for investment scam
Court: Victims skeptical restitution will be paid
Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017 10:13 am
A man who used his family reputation to become a social high-roller in High River and ultimately defraud friends and acquaintances to maintain his prominent lifestyle has been sentenced to 4.5 years in jail.
Justice Corina Dario sentenced James Farquharson Macleod to the prison term on Nov. 27 and ordered him to pay back just over $1 million to 10 investors who lost between $10,000 and more than $200,000 in an investment scam from 2009 to 2011. Some of the investors were retired seniors. Macleod, a successful mortgage broker in High River since 2006, said he began taking investors’ money and promised them 15 per cent interest, but because of an economic downturn he could not make good on his promises. Macleod described himself as being in over his head and admitted he made no investments. He used new investors’ money to pay back initial investors with interest.
The investment funds were put in the same accounts he used to run his brokerage. Some of the money was used to pay for his mortgage business and personal expenses.
In June 2011, some investors became suspicious and confronted Macleod. He admitted to a friend that all the investor money was gone. Three years later police in Nanaimo arrested and charged him with theft and fraud over $5,000.
In her decision on Monday, Justice Dario wrote that Macleod, who is the great-grandson of Col. James Macleod – a prominent figure in Alberta’s history – used his reputation to attract investors.
“Mr. Macleod relied on his reputation in the community to attract further investment, and he took advantage of individuals in a small, close-knit community, some of whom thought he was their friend,” Justice Dario wrote in her 16-page decision.
Many of the victims were from High River and the Foothills area, who Macleod met through the Elks and Rotary clubs.
There was no record of Macleod taking expensive vacations or having pricey homes, Dario wrote, but the money was used to support his lavish lifestyle. He himself testified his office served as the social hub of the community, where drinking took place all day.
“I have found that Mr. Macleod’s reasons for committing the fraud included to bolster his reputation in the community, as well as for profit, as the funds were also comingled with and used to cover expenses for his other business,” Justice Dario wrote.
Richard Cooper lost $10,000 to Macleod and was the only victim present for the sentencing. He said he’s pleased with the jail sentence, but believes he will never be paid back what he is owed.
“I’m highly skeptical of that,” Cooper said of the likelihood of Macleod making restitution.
Justice Dario did not make an order prohibiting Macleod from being in a position of trust when it comes to other people’s money, although the Crown requested it.
Cooper said he expects Macleod will reoffend.
“I would not at all be surprised if he does this again,” Cooper said. “Everybody just has to protect themselves in society.”
After six-and-a-half-years since the crime was uncovered, Cooper said he’s happy the court process is over.
“It’s been unresolved for all this time,” he said. “It’s had an effect on us all this time.”
It’s time to move on, he said.
Dario rejected the defence’s argument that Macleod could be sentenced to a conditional sentence order and keep his job as a sales manager at a car dealership in Nanaimo.
She did make a recommendation that Macleod be sent to a federal prison on Vancouver Island so his family could visit him more easily, but noted it was not binding on Corrections Canada.