The Canadian Press
The intense publicity swirling around alleged fraudster Earl Jones could be jeopardizing his chance at a fair criminal trial even before it begins, his lawyer said Friday.
Jeffrey Boro, who appeared in court on behalf of the seldom-seen Jones, said the Crown intends to lay new charges against the accused Ponzi scammer and that those charges could be ready as early as his next court date in January.
But he warned that numerous stories about Jones in the Montreal media and stories stemming from a parallel bankruptcy investigation could hamper his client’s right to a fair trial.
The bankruptcy details, a matter of public record, have been splashed all over local media for weeks, detailing the testimony of Jones’s former employees and his wife.
Boro said it’s having an impact.
“I usually tell all my clients that today’s news is tomorrow’s fish-wrapping — unfortunately, in Mr. Jones’ case, that is not what’s happening.
“He seems to be the menu of the day, every day of the week.”
Boro said he wouldn’t be surprised if additional charges were laid against his client, considering that Quebec provincial police have interviewed as many as 159 people who alleged they were swindled out of their savings.
Jones is free on $30,000 bail after being charged at the end of July with four counts each of fraud and theft involving former clients.
Former clients — mainly elderly pensioners — have accused him of swiping their life savings. His case caused a public outcry that has helped lead to tougher white-collar crime legislation adopted by the federal government.
The former Montreal financial advisor has been largely underground since his initial court appearance.
But the seemingly charmed life he’d led until this year has taken an abrupt turn south.
Boro says his client is penniless and ostracized by the community at large; he has apparently been refused fares by taxi drivers and landlords have refused to rent to him.
“He’s quite a marked man,” Boro said.
His wife Maxine, who has claimed she had no prior knowledge of his alleged financial misdeeds, has filed for divorce. Both he and his financial-services company have been declared bankrupt.
Jones was not required to be at the Montreal courthouse as his criminal case was put off until Jan. 15, but will be required to make an appearance at a hearing before a bankruptcy trustee next week, having been subpoenaed to testify at an undisclosed location.
Meanwhile, two of the four properties he once owned — a luxurious, 1,900-square-foot lakefront condominium in a Montreal suburb, and another condo in Mont-Tremblant, Que. — were put up for sale this week.
Two other properties in the U.S. will be put up for sale shortly, said bankruptcy trustee Gilles Robillard of RSM Richter.
All four properties are heavily mortgaged and the amount to be secured after the sale will likely be a pittance compared to the amounts alleged to be missing.
“We don’t have formal evaluations but there will $600,000 to $800,000 of equity once all the mortgages are paid,” Robillard said.
Robillard said no other money has been recovered. So far, claims amount to some $75 million allegedly missing, but Robillard cautioned there’s no way to know if that’s a real figure since the numbers have not been analyzed.
The Canadian Press