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'He needs to suffer in prison': Victim in multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme addresses court

Calgary Herald logo Calgary Herald 2022-08-17 Kevin Martin
The Calgary Courts Centre. © Provided by Calgary Herald The Calgary Courts Centre.

The multimillion-dollar mortgage scheme perpetrated by a Calgary senior should land him up to a 12-year prison term, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

And one victim of Arnold Breitkreutz told court he hopes the sentence Justice Colin Feasby hands down will make him suffer as much as those he targeted have.

“He needs to suffer in prison like we’ve been suffering in financial prison,” William Janman said, reading a victim-impact statement at Breitkreutz’s sentencing hearing.

But Breitkreutz’s lawyer, Cale Ellis-Toddington, said his client’s advanced age should be considered a mitigating factor for Feasby to consider in determining a fit sentence.

Ellis-Toddington said a 10- to 12-year prison term being sought by Crown prosecutor Shelley Smith would be much more crushing for the 74-year-old Breitkreutz than it would a man in his 40s.

“There’s no life left to live,” Ellis-Toddington said, of where his client would be after serving such a “harsh” term.

“There’s nothing left for him, essentially, and for that reason, it would be overly harsh.”

Feasby said he wasn’t convinced that should be considered a factor in the offender’s favour.

“I’m not overly persuaded that he’s 74 and that’s one reason to go easier on him,” the Court of Queen’s Bench judge said.

He said a person in their 40s would lose more quality years of their lives.

“Mr. Breitkreutz . . . has been able to enjoy the best years of his life,” Feasby said.

Feasby convicted Breitkreutz of fraud in June in connection with a Ponzi scheme he perpetrated on dozens of investors in his Base Finance Ltd. business.

Feasby, in a lengthy decision, found Breitkreutz intentionally deceived investors into believing they were putting their money into   safe   investments secured by first mortgages, when in fact he diverted the cash to   risky   and ultimately   failed   deals.

The Court of Queen’s Bench justice noted the charges against Breitkreutz of fraud and theft were narrowed down to the time span of May 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015, but his   criminal   behaviour occurred over a longer period.

The narrow temporal scope of the charges and the limited number of witnesses and documents presented to the court during trial means that these reasons do not, indeed they cannot, tell the whole story of the failure of Base Finance and of Mr. Breitkreutz’s fraud, ” Feasby said.

While total investor losses in Base Finance are said to be more than $100 million, this estimate cannot be verified because the estimate includes losses on investments made before May 1, 2014, ” he said.

Invest or losses from investing activity in the relevant period are less than $100 million, but still substantial.

Before Feasby adjourned to Friday for his sentencing decision, Breitkreutz addressed the court.

“To the victims, my investors, I can feel your loss and for that I’m unbelievably and (indescribably) sorry,” he said, his voice quivering.

“That was not my intention when I accepted your money.”

KMartin@postmedia.com

Twitter: @KMartinCourts

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