Four-year sentence for $800,000 fraud

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A Lacombe-area man convicted in an $800,000 fraud was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday.

Red Deer Court of King’s Bench Justice Sherry Kachur also ordered Benjamin Daniel Koorbatoff, 46, to pay $800,000 in restitution to a company owned by Red Deer businessman Terry Raymond.

Raymond celebrated outside the courtroom on Thursday morning.

“It’s taken a long time, but justice was served,” said Raymond, who was joined by a small group of family members and other supporters. “It doesn’t always happen, but in this case it did, and I’m happy.”

Koorbatoff was found guilty of fraud over $5,000 after a five-day trial a year ago. The judge found Raymond was bilked out of $800,000 by Koorbatoff who said he would use the money to buy shares in another company as part of potentially lucrative financial deal. However, Koorbatoff never had the shares to sell and did not deliver on his promise, said the judge in her sentencing decision.

Crown prosecutor Tony Bell had asked for a four-year sentence, pointing to Koorbatoff’s three prior fraud convictions that led to a two-year sentence in 2011.

The judge agreed that Koorbatoof had engaged in an elaborately and carefully planned fraud that occurred over a lengthy period of time and involved a significant amount of money. Kachur also accepted that the fraud had an impact on Raymond’s mental health.

In a victim impact statement Raymond read to the judge in court on Monday, he said he knew and trusted Koorbatoff and the scam that took place from September 2015 to August 2016 came at a time in his life when he was vulnerable, both emotionally and financially.

The Crown prosecutor had also asked for an $800,000 restitution order. The judge agreed, noting she had received little evidence any restitution had been paid other than a $40,000 cash payment.

Koorbatoff must pay any restitution left outstanding following any separate civil actions. Koorbatoff will have to repay the money within two years of his release from prison.

Defence lawyer Maurice Collard said an appeal has already been filed.

“We believe there was a misapprehension of some of the facts,” said Collard outside court. A bail hearing is set for Friday in Edmonton to apply that Koorbatoff remain free pending his appeal.

Collard had asked for a two-year conditional sentence order, which would have included one-third house arrest, one-third curfew and then less restrictive conditions.

Collard argued that prison would be a hardship for Koorbatoff, who has faced a number of serious health issues in recent months. He had a massive heart attack last Thanksgiving, underwent a knee replacement earlier this year, is recovering from toe surgery and is due for root canal work because of abscessed teeth.

The judge said the defence had presented no evidence that the prison system was not capable of dealing with Koorbatoff’s health issues.

“I do not see this as a factor to reduce his sentence,” she said.

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