About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Real Life Canadian P.I.'s Manufacture Evidence


Often when I read crime fiction in which it is alleged there is a conspiracy against the good guy or the creation of false evidence or a scheme to frame someone I am skeptical. Well, after reading about real life former Canadian private investigators, Cullen Johnson and Elaine White, I will have to more willing to accept such stories are credible.

The incredibly brazen Johnson and White manufactured evidence for years to be used in Canadian court cases.

They were successful for several years partially because of their professional backgrounds. In a Canadian Lawyer Magazine article it was stated:

The fact lawyers were hoodwinked by Johnson and White is no surprise given the couple’s professional pedigrees. What’s known about White is she once worked as an investigator for a subsidiary of Lindquist Avey, a well-regarded forensic accounting firm in Toronto in the ’90s later purchased by Kroll. Johnson was a police officer with the Toronto Police Service, where he enjoyed success during his 20-plus years on the force. He became an assistant in the chief’s office, a detective sergeant in the intelligence branch, and spent a number of years with internal affairs. Colleagues recall him as a competent and scandal-free officer.

The Canadian Lawyer Magazine focuses on the story of Eric Cunningham, a marketing executive and former Member of the Provincial Parliament for Ontario, who was in the midst of divorce proceedings when a multi-million dollar claim was made against him that he had secreted funds off shore.

The article states:

In the case of Cunningham, they presented Blaneys with an impressive-looking 59-page, single-spaced dossier, replete with bank account numbers, dollar amounts, and wire transaction records — for the most part fiction

Cunningham went through a multi-year struggle to clear his name and is now suing his wife’s lawyers, Blaneys, and others for the fraud.

In Alberta Cullen and Johnson provided false information in a family estate case involving the Gouin brothers. In the trial judgment for defamation by the brothers against Johnson and White Justice Lee summarized:
       
[52]  In the present case, the Defendants used their businesses to sell fake financial information about one person to a person who wanted to find "dirt" on another in order to sue that person. The sale of such information has wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent people, financially and emotionally. Notwithstanding the fraudulent nature of the financial information sold in this case, the Defendants continue to insist on the accuracy of the information they provide. These Defendants have hidden in Bahamas in order to avoid facing charges in both Ontario and the United States for this same conduct. Their disregard for honesty and the justice system, and the callous manner in which the Defendants have conducted themselves, define the very circumstances by which punitive damages should be awarded.
 
The consequences of their actions went beyond financial harm. Canadian Lawyer sets out another case in which it was alleged Lorraine Teicht, who was the lottery ticket buyer for herself and a group of co-workers who jointly purchased tickets, had taken money from a winning ticket:

White and Johnson produced a report saying Teicht had indeed stolen the lottery winnings and stowed the cash offshore. Driven by this false information, Teicht’s co-workers harassed her for months, causing Teicht to have two nervous breakdowns and other health problems.

The ticket had actually been stolen by the variety store owner who had sold the winning ticket.

Charged with fraud by Ontario police in 2009 Johnson and White fled Canada to the Bahamas. My next post will continue  the Johnson and White saga to the present day.

8 comments:

  1. Bill, I wonder why people with successful careers do this sort of thing when they know what the end result is going to be. Are the Canadian authorities pressing for deportation of the couple? Thanks for sharing this true life incident.

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  2. Bill - Stories like that are stark reminders that anyone in any position may be unethical and untrustworthy. And I think it's even worse in cases like this, where the people involved have, if I can put it this way, the public trust. This is just horrible. And I hope Canadian authorities are working for extradition so that they can face justice.

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  3. Prashant: I surmise greed led them to fraud though how they expected not to get caught I do not know. Check back Monday evening for a post that will explain what has happened to the pair.

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  4. Margot: They were respected and successful and still turned to fraud. They have significantly damaged the image of private investigators in Canada.

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  5. On a similar note, a former prosecutor and judge in Texas is going to jail, losing his law license and more, because he intentionally withheld evidence, which would have probably freed an innocent man.

    An eyewitness said the suspect was not the killer of his wife. However, Ken Anderson prosecuted and then became a judge, while the suspect was jailed for 25 years.

    Even though the sentence is only 10 days, it's still a good thing. Maybe it'll convince other prosecutors to produce evidence that they don't want the defense to have.

    Must be a lesson in this.

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  6. Kathy D.: I wish I felt Anderson's conviction and disbarment will make a difference. Looking from the North it appears too many American prosecutors have lost the principle that a prosecutor's responsibility is to present the evidence and law. When prosecutors think they must do whatever is necessary to gain convictions there will be wrongful convictions.

    Even more shameful is Texas law limiting the amount of damages for wrongful conviction. A life can be destroyed with insignificant financial compensation.

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  7. True. A life can be destroyed with little, if any, financial compensation.

    You're right about overly zealous prosecutors in the States who won't produce evidence that could exonerate a suspect. Unfortunately, this kind of chicanery even goes on in death penalty cases, which is so hottifying.

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  8. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. It is hard for me to understand how so many America's prosecutors have lost the perspective of their roles in the judicial system.

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