Hamilton (August 27, 2019) – John Wallace Findlay was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution in John Sopinka Courthouse on Monday afternoon. The high-profile Hamilton lawyer had been charged with breach of trust and fraud in connection to misappropriating money. The money had been awarded to his former clients of the Caledonia class action lawsuit. He had pleaded guilty.
Findlay represented a class that included 440 Caledonia residents, 400 businesses and some subcontractors in the Caledonia lawsuit of 2006, CBC reports. In the aftermath, he was responsible to distribute the settlement money which amounted to $20 million. $2.2 million of the lawsuit payout were left in reserve funds, hence were not distributed. The 65-year-old ended up spending $1,754,840 of the funds. After several cover-up efforts, Findlay reported himself to the Law Society of Ontario in May 2019. The society subsequently revoked his law license.
On Monday, Findlay was ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution to the Law Society of Ontario’s compensation fund. Findlay’s lawyer, Geoffrey Read, argued that Findlay has already paid $50,000 to class members last September and is not able to pay the remaining $1.7 million anymore due to his lost profession and the damage to his reputation.
With the 2.5 year sentence, Justice Tory Colvin follows the argument of the Assistant Crown Attorney Fraser McCracken that Findlay should serve a federal penitentiary term since he besmirched the legal profession. However, Read claimed 15 months in jail. Throughout the trial, the fraudulent lawyer showed remorse and said that he wanted to take responsibility for his actions.