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A COVID-Like Sentence for Forgery and Possession of Stolen Property

Dustin Shaun Grandinetti, 41 of Edmonton Alberta, Given a COVID Like Sentence for Forgery and Possession of Stolen Property

On July 17, 2020, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, sentenced Dustin Shaun Grandinetti, 41 years old of Edmonton, Alberta, to 18 months of house arrest with some conditions. The Court also ordered Mr. Grandinetti to pay restitution of $1,000 per month – but this restitution order is not tied to a condition on his conditional sentence/house arrest or probation thereafter.

The name Dustin Shaun Grandinetti does not appear on any web sites, and accordingly, the victims of his crimes had no real opportunity to know who they were dealing with. Further, the reasons for sentence do not appear through a search on Google or other web search engines.  The house arrest/conditional sentence and probation orders contain a condition that he may not contact the victims of his crimes.

Dustin Shaun Grandinetti was convicted of two counts of trafficking in stolen property, two counts of possession of stolen property, and six counts of use of a forged document. Although he was sentenced to a total of 30 months jail, the judge ordered the sentences for the stolen property convictions to run concurrently with the forgery sentences, meaning he was only sentenced to 18 months incarceration.

The Court indicated that house arrest / conditional sentences are available for criminal sentences under two years, so essentially Dustin Shaun Grandinetti was sentenced to terms similar to what every other citizen of Alberta has been living under the COVID pandemic. For example, during his “house arrest”, the Court permitted him to leave his home to go to work, go to medical appointments, go the grocery store and other stores.

This 18-month sentence for forging documents and dealing in stolen property hardly seems more of hardship than a COVID stay at home directive. And in granting the house arrest sentence, the Court acknowledged that Dustin Shaun Grandinetti had a record for, and been sentenced to, the following:

July 2, 1997 (Youth Court)Theft over $5000 (2 charges)6 months probation on each charge
December 16, 1998Possession of property obtained by crime under $5000$500 fine and 3 months probation.
April 11, 2000Possession of property obtained by crime$1000 find and 1 year probation
October 10, 2001Possession of property obtained by crime90 days conditional sentence order and 1 year probation
July 2, 2014Unauthorized use of a firearm6 months conditional sentence, 1 year weapons prohibition
April 18, 2017Fraud under $5000Time serviced prior to sentencing – 15 days.

The Court found that Mr. Grandinetti participated with others, mainly one Sam Smith of Drumheller, Alberta, in the forging of bills of sale with “cloned” vehicle identification numbers and fictitious vendors, and in using them to register six stolen travel trailers in his own name. It appears that Sam Smith was the “mastermind” of the operation.

Mr. Grandinetti was in possession of the stolen travel trailers in question when arrested. His evidence was that he intended to buy trailer 5 from Mr. Smith for himself for $6,500, a price far below its value. He testified that he had in effect paid $1000 of that price in transferring $1000 more to Mr. Smith than Mr. Smith had wanted in connection with the sale of trailer 2. Trailer 5 was hooked up to Mr. Grandinetti’s vehicle and he was in the course of moving it when he was arrested. As to trailer 6, Mr. Grandinetti had advertised it for sale for $24,400. He testified that Mr. Smith told him he could keep all proceeds of sale in excess of $12,500.

The Court found that Mr. Grandinetti in the case of all six stolen trailers, he was closely involved in the process of creating fraudulent documentation which he used to effect registration of the trailers in his own name in order to facilitate the transfer of the trailers to others, including at least one innocent purchaser. He also physically possessed each of the stolen travel trailers and knew each was stolen, when he dealt with it (though he was not charged with a “possession offence” in respect of two of them). He trafficked two of the travel trailers he knew were stolen. He possessed two of them for the purpose of trafficking them.

Victim Impact Statements

Two of the victims of Mr. Grandinetti’s crimes filed Victim Impact Statements. One was from the owners of a stolen travel trailer. Their statement speaks of the ramifications of their losing their travel trailer which they used both as a residence when they were working in the oil patch and for holidays. They felt that their privacy and security had been seriously violated — especially when they saw the Kijiji ad which Mr. Grandinetti posted in his attempt to sell the trailer. It contained photographs of their personal space and possessions. To see them published and represented to belong to someone else caused significant upset. They also suffered a significant loss of trust in their fellow citizens and a need to take significant and costly steps to ensure that their travel trailer is safely stored in future. Knowing that the trailers contained personal documents that identified them and the location of their home to thieves significantly damaged their sense of personal security.

The other victim wrote the Court:

Your actions caused so much heartache and anguish for our family and we are still suffering from it today. We spent four years taking some money away from our kids and working overtime, nightshifts, and weekends to save enough money to buy a holiday trailer for our family. Not only did you take away those savings, but you also took away all the memories that we did not get to make in that holiday trailer. When the trailer was taken away from us, we did not have money to replace it. We have lost out on years of camping with family and friends and making those memories as a family because of you.

The decisions that you made continue to affect our family to this day as we are still trying to save enough money to replace what you stole from us. Our kids are that much older now, so even when we are able to replace the trailer, our camping memories will never be the same and that is because of you. It is also because of you that our three children are nervous around people. My son was present when you sold us that stolen holiday trailer, you did not look like the boogyman or someone he should be afraid of, now he has a hard time trusting people because of you.

Crown Sentencing Recommendation

Ms. Zahaylo for the Crown submitted that a fit sentence for Mr. Grandinetti given all the circumstances is imprisonment for three to three and a half years. The Court issued a stay-at-home sentence subject to the following conditions:

  1. Keep the peace and be of good behavior;
  2. Appear before the court when required to do so by the court;
  3. Report to a supervisor within two business days of his release from custody in relation to the custodial sentences imposed in respect of his other convictions, and thereafter when required by the supervisor and in the manner directed by the supervisor;
  4. Remain within the Province of Alberta unless written permission to go outside Alberta is obtained from the Court or the supervisor;
  5. Notify the Court or the supervisor in advance of any change of name or address and promptly notify the Court or the supervisor of any change of employment or occupation;
  6. Reside in the residence of his brother Shane Grandinetti unless his supervisor approves in advance and in writing some other residence;
  7. Report to the supervisor in writing whenever the supervisor requests that he do so, such details and particulars of his employment, or his search for employment, or the training for employment which he undertakes, or the travel necessary from the residence for any of those purposes;
  8. Be in the residence of his brother Shane Grandinetti at all times except when required to leave the residence:
    1. For purposes of employment including travel to or from employment.
    2. For the purposes of searching for employment or participating in training for employment including the travel required for such purpose.
    3. For the purpose of attending upon his supervisor.
    4. For the purpose of attending upon his Counsel or in Court.
    5. For the purpose of attending a medical or dental appointment provided that he has advised his supervisor of the appointment in advance and has obtained the supervisor’s approval in writing of his attendance at it.
    6. In order to respond to a medical emergency in which case he shall report the particulars of the emergency and the details of his absence from the residence to his supervisor in writing within 48 hours of the commencement of the emergency.
    7. In order to attend upon for the counselling required by the terms of this conditional sentence order.
    8. For no more than 3 hours once a week to shop or otherwise attend to essential personal errands in which case he shall report to the supervisor within 3 business days of such absence and in writing the particulars of such absence including the errand addressed, the places attended, the names of the persons whom he met or who accompanied him on the absence, and any other information requested by the supervisor.
    9. For any other purpose approved in advance and in writing by his supervisor.
  9. Not be absent from his residence, even for a purpose listed in the previous condition, other than a medical emergency, except between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. without the prior written approval of his supervisor.
  10. Present himself at the door of the residence to any officer who attends to monitor his compliance with the conditions of this order.
  11. Abstain from communicating directly or indirectly with Sam Smith or any of the victims of his crime.
  12. Not be the registered owner of more than one motor vehicle.
  13. Not be the registered owner of any travel trailer.
  14. Not possess any travel trailer.
  15. Participate in such counselling as his supervisor may recommend and arrange, specifically the counselling suggested in the Gladue Report for Dustin Grandinetti dated June 3, 2020 and filed in these proceedings.

The underlined words are similar to government lockdown rules during the COVID era.

Restitution Order with a Novel Twist

The Crown advised the Court that something called a Restitution Recovery Program provided by the Government of Alberta is not available where payment of restitution is made a condition of a conditional sentence order or a probation order. As a result, the Court issued a “stand-alone” restitution order providing that he has to pay $1,000 per month to his victims unless the supervisor or the Court permits or requires him to pay some other amount upon assessing his income and essential other expenses and his ability to pay.

As this “stand-alone” restitution order” is not a condition of his house arrest or probation, it has no meaningful enforcement mechanism. It is simply a piece of paper that victims can seek to have turned into a civil judgment. Once they have a civil judgment, the victims have to pay for its enforcement unless they qualify for this Restitution Recovery Program provided by the Government of Alberta. There is no reported “success” on the use of this Restitution Recovery Program. It would appear that victims will continue to anguish, while Dustin Shaun Grandinetti can stay at home, have his friends over, play video games, access the internet, and engage in most everything that any other resident of Alberta could during the COVID period.

Parting Words

The Court held that a sentence of 6 months incarceration and 3 year’s probation on the trafficking in and possession of stolen property convictions and a total of 18 months conditional sentence for the using a forged document convictions will serve the purposes of sentencing in the circumstances of this case — including denunciation and deterrence. Such a sentence is proportional to Mr. Grandinetti’s moral blameworthiness for these crimes given the circumstances of the offences and Mr. Grandinetti’s own circumstances.

The Court stated that she was “satisfied” that Mr. Grandinetti will recognize that the lenient sentence / second change is also a last chance, and that any significant breach of the conditions of the conditional sentence will result in the collapse of the order, and that for any future conviction, a conditional sentence will be extremely unlikely.

To review a copy of the entire decision, it may be found here.