Kevin Plange, a Toronto man who has been found to have almost defrauded $40 million from Revenue Canada was given an increase of prison sentence. Ontario Court of Appeal said that the 18 months ruling which was initially given to Plange was too short a time for the crime he committed and so the sentence was upped to 3 years.
Appeal Court Steps In
According to the Appeal Court, the sentence initially imposed was not fit when compared to other large-scale frauds and that the sentencing judge understated the respondent’s moral blameworthiness. With this said, the court also decided that the initial time served is enough and Plange does not have to go back to jail. The court also said that his rehabilitation showed that there is no need for serving more time in jail.
On a separate note, the Appeal Court upheld the validity of serving a mandatory sentence of 2 years of jail time for fraud over $1 million. They also added that the trial judge engaged in unacceptable hypothetical exercise by determining that provision as unconstitutional.
Plange is a University of Toronto arts graduate who has been earning well. He developed a gambling problem which resulted in huge debts. By his admission, he engaged in a year-long scam starting August 2013 in which he made 28 fake direct-deposit information forms to CRA.
Because of the above, CRA deposited millions of dollars in tax refunds and rebates owed to 12 huge corporations into bank accounts controlled by Plange. When things were discovered, CRA has already paid Plange almost $42 million. It was only due to bank diligence that Plange was only able to withdraw $15,000. Considering everything, the defrauded amount is still more than $1,000,000.
Superior Court Justice Shaun Nakatsuru considered the mandatory minimum of 2 years imprisonment as cruel and unusual although he acknowledged that it was not out of line for what Plange did. Instead of the mandatory sentence for fraud over $1,000,000, he sentenced Plange to 18 months and reduced to 13 months for pre-sentence bail conditions and time served. The Crown appealed for both and the Appeal Court agreed on both appeals. The Appeal Court stated that Nakatsuru engaged in wrong speculation and used hypothetical situations where the mandatory minimum could be seen as excessive. They also said that any future attempt to overturn the mandatory minimum will undergo an evaluation based on the facts presented and the time.
Regarding the sentence given to Plange. The Appeal Court found out that the judge believed Plange’s excuses that the fraud committed was spontaneous, simple, and was a one-time act. The Appeal Court also said that this claim is incomplete and made to understate the effort made by Plange to commit fraud.
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