Easy justice for con men
Not Zambia, where the government isn’t printing any more of its worthless money. Or Somalia, where they haven’t had a central government in 10 years. Or Saudi Arabia, where thieves get their hands cut off and adulterers get stoned. Or Iraq, where your coloured voting finger gets cut off by jihadists. And certainly not the United States, from where international theatre titans Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb fled in order to avoid U.S. justice. Smart. And where Conrad Black learned too late it was unwise to put himself at the mercy of the courts.
Drabinsky’s old friend Black got 6 1/2 years in the U.S. and, if Canada had gone after him, Conrad would likely be free as a bird today and out there creating new media empires worldwide, feeding hungry journalists and his lordship as well.
Good news for Drabinsky and partner Gottlieb, who got sentences of seven and six years respectively, due to Canada’s lamentable – and joke-like – prosecution of big-time fraudsters. The guys will likely die happily in their own beds. Both Drabinsky and Gottlieb will be eligible for full parole after serving just over a year.
Both of them could well be out of jail before Black is. Black, under U.S. federal criminal law, must serve almost all of his sentence. Canada’s ridiculous reduced sentencing of convicted felons, often played out over a period of years, makes this country a happy hunting ground for criminal lawyers. Why would they want to fix it?
Our Canadian legal system leans over backward to coddle criminals. Prosecutors seemed to be running around panic-stricken, trying to get those two fraudsters out on bail before either one of them got claustrophobia. They got them out in record time – within four hours. They had to come up with two cheques for bail for Drabinsky and Gottlieb, each for $350,000.
Someone suggested they must have been writing the cheques when the verdict was being announced. Getting bail is a solid indication that you’ve got the money behind you or somebody feels confident enough to put up the money for you. How can this be? Both of these fraudsters claim they’re poverty stricken.
Suddenly, between them in a few minutes, the fraudsters, who were kingpins in an estimated $500,000-$1 million fraud, can round up almost three-quarters of a million dollars for bail. Now both of them claim they are mouse-poor after paying stiff legal bills to their lawyers – Eddie Greenspan for Garth, Brian, his brother, for Myron, for the past 10 years – for their nimble footwork in keeping Garth and Myron out of jail. Where’d they get the money from?
Garth claims he’s had to beg money from distant acquaintances by offering them bargains at his Yorkville art gallery. Myron couldn’t get a job and has to live off his wife’s income. This all sounds like a crock to me. Will no one investigate this and see how much bull there is in it? Don’t ask the RCMP to do an investigation. It’s taken them eight years to get this far.
We’re 80 years behind the U.S. If you’re a crook, this is the best place to be, according to Al Rosen, a forensic accountant, who said: “I’ve turned over files (about criminal activity) to the RCMP and nothing happens.”
“No one is above the law,” said Ontario Court Justice Mary Lou Benetto, in sentencing the fraudsters. “No one gets to write his own rules.”
Eddie Greenspan provided a bit of unintended merriment when he proposed to the judge that, instead of his client doing jail time, Garth could embark on an inspirational tour with the goal of urging young people to pursue their dreams in the performing arts. I’m presuming that Garth would cast himself as the role model. Good grief.
Strangely enough, the response from many people when they heard the Drabinsky and Gottlieb verdict was that the duos’ convictions were “a travesty of justice” and “a shameful disregard of their wonderful attributes and ignoring their priceless contribution to the community.” Never mind the countless people they ripped off – they don’t appear to matter.
My mother, when she observed a wave of misdirected sympathy for a convicted felon, would say: “The hangman’s noose never found a guilty neck.” Luckily, for a number of people in Canada, the hangman has hung up his noose.