Ex-lawyer to face 32 theft, fraud charges

Among the groups due money from estates Mr. McGilton is alleged to have defrauded are Christian Blind International, the Old Brewery Mission, the SPCA, the Foundation of McGill University, the Victorian Order of Nurses and the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. A police source said the amount of money Mr. McGilton is alleged to have stolen or defrauded exceeds $1-million. The alleged victims were all elderly women.

National Post
October 21, 2003

Ex-lawyer to face 32 theft, fraud charges
Prominent fundraiser
Graeme Hamilton

MONTREAL – A former lawyer who was once a fixture on the city’s charity circuit is to appear in court next month on charges he defrauded clients of more than $1-million.

Gordon McGilton, 72, was served with a summons ordering him to appear on Nov. 26 on 32 charges of theft and fraud and one charge of perjury. They carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Mr. McGilton, who practiced law for 42 years before resigning from the Quebec bar society in 2000, specialized in estates and trusts. The charges involve the estates of four Montreal women and the investments of three others.

Eric Sutton, a Montreal lawyer who filed a complaint with fraud investigators on behalf of Mr. McGilton’s former clients, said the alleged victims are relieved the Quebec Crown is pressing charges.

“I don’t think many of them expect the criminal process will result in recovery of their money. For these people, it’s important that justice is served,” he said. “They really feel violated in their trust.”

One of the women, who asked to remain anonymous, lost hundreds of thousands of dollars that she relied upon to support herself and her disabled son.

Until news of Mr. McGilton’s troubles first surfaced in civil suits two years ago, he enjoyed an excellent reputation in Quebec’s anglophone community. He won admiration for establishing a thriving law career, despite being born legally blind, and in 1989, he was named Queen’s Counsel. He served as chairman of the board of trustees at Stanstead College, the private school he attended in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, and also held a fundraising position with the McGill University Health Centre foundation.

But an information sworn before a justice of the peace by Line Lafreniere of the Montreal police suggests a different kind of relationship with charities. Among the groups due money from estates Mr. McGilton is alleged to have defrauded are Christian Blind International, the Old Brewery Mission, the SPCA, the Foundation of McGill University, the Victorian Order of Nurses and the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul.

A police source said the amount of money Mr. McGilton is alleged to have stolen or defrauded exceeds $1-million. The alleged victims were all elderly women.

Mr. McGilton is also facing a number of civil suits seeking to recover an estimated $3.5-million that complainants allege went missing from accounts the former lawyer oversaw.

He has denied wrongdoing in his civil defence and said the missing money was invested with his clients’ approval.

In connection with the civil suits, Mr. McGilton’s former law partners, Robert Johnston and Linda Hodess, filed a defence saying Mr. McGilton negotiated a “resignation/settlement agreement” with the Quebec bar society in January, 2000, after the society had conducted an intensive review of Mr. McGilton’s files.

They said under the terms of the agreement, Mr. McGilton resigned from the bar but was allowed to maintain his office and perform limited tasks related to estates he was administering.

Mr. McGilton died not return telephone calls yesterday. Officials at the bar society also did not return calls.


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Risks: Fraud, Justice, Perjury, Queen's Counsel, Theft, Violated, Canada, 20031021 Ex-lawyer

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