Sinner sent to prison for swindle

Where's the money, you bastard?'' one member of the packed public gallery grumbled before the judge announced the sentence.

The Toronto Star
February 6, 2001

Sinner sent to prison for swindle
Forgiven once, Blow defrauds 65 of $7.3 million
James Daw

David Blow will get more than Christian counselling and forgiveness after confessing his sins this time.

The 45-year-old Mount Albert man was sentenced yesterday to 43 months in a federal prison after pleading guilty to defrauding 65 victims of about $7.3 million over 11 years.

“You have taken advantage of many people who put their life savings, their hopes and their trust in your hands,” said Justice Bruce Shilton. “The words that come to mind are sad, tragic and unbelievable.”

Blow was accused of cashing the insurance policies of fellow church members, forging cheques and selling bogus guaranteed investment certificates. He even confessed to taking money from his church and money that his daughter's quarter horse riding association had raised by selling chocolate bars.

“Where's the money, you bastard?” one member of the packed public gallery grumbled before the judge announced the sentence.

Blow had already spent 5 1/2 months in a provincial detention centre. Two successive lawyers tried to bargain the shortest possible sentence, before sentencing was set to give the maximum number of victims a chance to attend.

Shilton ordered Blow to pay restitution of $6.2 million. The sum was less than what he had taken from clients because he had run a kind of Ponzi scheme, robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Some clients will be reimbursed by insurance companies and the Toronto Dominion Bank, which accepted cheques that Blow forged. Many others will not be reimbursed by a company because of the way they were defrauded, although they have hired lawyers to investigate a civil action.

Blow had masqueraded as an insurance agent for about a decade, although he had no licence, operating out of an office on Main Street in Stouffville, southeast of Newmarket.

He had lost his licence after defrauding clients in the 1980s, but was reinstated for a few weeks in the mid-1990s after seeking and receiving a pardon. Some of those who spoke for him at his licensing hearing were members of his church.

His victims ranged from teenagers saving for university to retirees up to age 98. Many lost more than $100,000, while one victim lost about $1.5 million, a lifetime of savings.

“Your honour, do we have to sit here and listen to this crap?” asked one silver-haired man as Blow stood to deliver a pre-sentencing statement.

Shilton gave him and others time to leave the temporary courtroom if they could not bear to hear Blow speak.

Then defence attorney Thomas Pitman announced that his client had reconsidered and he would not speak. He said Blow did not want to cause more injury.

Many in the gallery snickered.

Pitman said Blow would carry the scorn of the community for the rest of his life, his marriage of 25 years might not survive and he would miss his own father's funeral today.

Many victims said they were unsympathetic, having already heard Blow confess to members of Springfield Baptist Church near Stouffville in late 1999.

He received counselling and forgiveness within the church, but then he turned around and defrauded others to pay back some of his earlier victims.

Detective Fred Kerr of York Region police major fraud squad said later that, even after Blow was arrested and released on bail last July, he took money from more clients.

Shilton acknowledged that the sentence he imposed was at the low end of the range he could have considered.

But, on the advice of assistant crown attorney Paul Tait, he took into account the time and money saved when Blow agreed to plead guilty and help the police document his crimes.

One victim, Lois Emerson, said outside the court that crimes such as fraud should be treated as seriously under Canadian law as violent acts.

“My entire life is ruined,” said the 65-year-old businesswoman. “I worked my entire life, until 1 and 2 in the morning, as did my husband. Now I feel so stupid. I would rather he shot me than go through the pain
I've gone through.”

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