Jan 8, 2018 – At Canadian Fraud News Inc. we report on decisions issued by Canadian Courts related to fraud that are not reported in main stream media, and that contain legal issues the Canadian public and fraud recovery experts should be aware of. The following is one such story.
On December 11, 2018, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto released its decision in a contempt of court proceedings that resulted from a fraud perpetrated by Steven Mann, an unlicenced paralegal and lawyer operating under the banner of Due Process Legal Services.
The case is of public interest as it demonstrates the lenient approach taken by Ontario Courts to contempt of court committed by rogues, and why it is fair for victims of fraud to solicit information from the public through social media in their efforts to obtain recover from their fraud loss.
The salient facts published by the Court with respect to the fraud perpetrated by Steven Mann and his company Due Process Legal Services are reported at Aeon Sodding Corp. v. Mann, 2018 ONSC 7342. They are summarized as follows.
Steven Mann, personally and through the corporate defendants which were controlled by him, pretended to be a licensed paralegal and law student, and later a licensed lawyer, and solicited legal work from the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs retained Mann and his businesses to collect numerous outstanding invoices through litigation. Despite numerous reports and updates regarding the status of the various matters given to him, Mann never undertook any work or initiated any litigation on behalf of the plaintiffs, nor was he licensed to do so.
The plaintiffs commenced an action against Steven Mann and the corporate defendants alleging fraud. Notwithstanding that they were duly served, the defendants never responded to the claim or contacted plaintiffs’ counsel. At a default judgment hearing, the Court ordered judgment of $1,472,512.72 in damages plus costs of $19,688.78 and prejudgment interest of $22,097.11 against Steven Mann and his corporate defendants. The Court further ordered that Steven Mann provide an accounting and enjoined the defendants from dealing with any money or property pending further court order.
The plaintiffs served Steven Mann with the judgment and a Notice of Examination in Aid of Execution. However, he did not attend the examination. The plaintiffs then obtained an order from the Court compelling Mann to attend the examination in aid of execution. The plaintiffs attempted to serve Mann at a criminal court appearance in Newmarket, but he was not in attendance. The plaintiffs later discovered that Mann was scheduled to appear on an unrelated fraud over $5,000 at Old City Hall in Toronto and were able to serve him. Mann again failed to attend the examination in aid of execution and failed to account for what he did with the $1M+ he stole from the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs next brought a motion for contempt of court. Declarations of contempt may result in jail sentences as a means to coerce a rogue to account for what he did with a fraud victim’s funds, and to attend for examination to determine if any of the loss can be recovered. At the contempt motion, the Court adjourned the motion to give Mann on further opportunity to account and attend for examination. The Court reissued the same orders for Mann to account for the plaintiff’s funds and attend for examination.
Mann again failed to attend an examination in aid of execution. At the next hearing date, being December 11, 2018, the Court declared that Mann is in contempt of court (convicted Mann of contempt of court). As is typical in quassi-criminal contempt of court proceedings, the sentencing date was adjourned to give Mann a final opportunity to purge his contempt. If the contempt of court is not purged, the Court has the option of ordering Mann arrested and sentenced to a term of imprisonment as a means to coerce him to comply with the judgment recovery process.
The date for the sentencing of Mann for contempt of court was not issued. The Court ordered Mann to attend for examination on before January 15, 2019, and that a date for sentencing could be scheduled after this examination date. The Court ordered that costs payable by Steven Mann to the plaintiff on a substantial indemnity basis in the amount of $13,039.04.
The Court did not comment in its decision as to whether a criminal complaint or a claim for punitive damages was being pursued. Anyone with a residential address, employment information or financial information on Steven Mann of Due Process Legal Services may contact Canadian Fraud News at firstname.lastname@example.org