By Francesca Fionda
There is some justice today for the Canadian clients and victims of two former private investigators.
In February we brought you the story of Cullen Johnson and Elaine White after a number of Canadians came forward saying they were victimized by the pair’s misleading business.
Now, the two could be put behind bars for up to 10 years, but it won’t be in a Canadian prison.
Johnson and White have been in custody in Newport News, Virginia since August 2012.
They were charged with money laundering, wire fraud and mail fraud.
Now Johnson is admitting to money laundering in exchange for fraud charges to be dropped and White has entered her intent to plead guilty.
In 2009, White and Johnson were also charged with fraud in Ontario. But before any day in court, they got on a plane and headed to the Caribbean.
After three years of sunshine and beaches, Johnson and White were arrested for a minor immigration violation in the Turks and Cacaos and extradited to the U.S. to face fraud charges in Virginia to answer for their crimes against American victims.
This is how their scheme worked:
In a typical case the two would agree to investigate suspicions of money hidden by an ex-husband or business partner.
But clients talked to said instead of finding the facts, they fabricated fiction by making up bank accounts and fraudulent documents.
Eric Cunningham, a former Ontario MPP says he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars clearing his name after Cullen and Johnson alleged he had hidden $2.4 million offshore in 18 different tax havens.
Cunningham says the damage they caused him was lasting and horrific.
Knowing Johnson is now a convicted felon, Cunningham says “It’s gratifying to victims both in the US and across Canada who have been maligned maliciously by Mr. Johnson and it’s gratifying to know he’ll be incarcerated and not engaged in those activities.”
While the American legal system takes action against Johnson and White, critics say regulators in Canada should have acted faster to bring justice to their clients here.
“I’d love to see them brought back to Canada and face the justice system here.
I think it would be good if they could stand in front of the Canadian courts and their accusers and answer to the crimes that were committed on Canadian soil” says Roger Miller, President of Council of Private Investigators of Atlantic Canada.
But Miller doesn’t place the blame on the legal system in Canada. He says the provincial regulators that oversee investigators are at fault, “I think this still falls back to the regulators had they intervened and taken these two through the legal channels the legal system would have had a chance to work faster.”
Canadians may have to wait until Johnson and White complete their sentences to bring them to trial here. At which point, it will be up to the Ontario authorities to determine whether or not to prosecute them for charges they face in Canada.