Fraudster who bilked elderly Okanagan couple out of $12,000 in roofing scam out of jail soon | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon News

Fraudster who bilked elderly Okanagan couple out of $12,000 in roofing scam out of jail soon


A 65-year-old man with multiple convictions for fraud spanning back three decades appeared at the Vernon courthouse, Nov. 7, after being caught scamming a Coldstream couple in their 80s out of $12,000.

Hugh Arnold, born 1957, appeared by video from custody after being brought to B.C. from Ontario where he was out of prison on parole serving a 12-year sentence for defrauding more than 60 victims in a roofing scam.

Arnold was arrested in Kelowna in 2018 while on a Canada-wide warrant in connection to the Ontario roofing scam. His ex-wife Hanan El Badry was also arrested.

He was later convicted in May 2019 of 66 charges, the majority for fraud over $5,000, and sentenced to roughly 12 years jail.

The court heard how Arnold had bought a home and cars and was leading a "luxurious lifestyle" with his fraudulently earned cash.

He was also ordered to pay back the victims $758,000 and given a Order of Fine in Lieu of Forfeiture whereby he'll do another three years in jail if he fails to pay the full amount within five years.

His ex-wife had her charge stayed after Arnold pleaded guilty.

It's unclear what happened to Arnold assets and there was no mention in court that they'd been seized following his conviction.

The offences that took place in Ottawa in 2017 all followed the same pattern whereby Arnold, who went by his wife's last name of El Badry, would accept roofing jobs and receive partial or full pre-payment but not carry out the work.

The court heard how Arnold had owned Ottawa Permanent Roofing and had subcontracted the work. When the subcontractor hurt themselves in an accident, Arnold continued to get contracts and take money from customers but didn't do the work.

Arnold had said the company was doing legitimate work before he began ripping people off.

And that does appear to be somewhat true as he was fined $80,000 by the Ontario Ministry of Labour after three workers were set on fire on a roofing project in July 2017.

While Arnold received a hefty sentence for his 66 convictions, after a little over two years behind bars he made parole and was living in an apartment and working in a car wash in Brampton, Ontario.

It's unclear when, but sometime in 2018 he made his way out to B.C. and ripped off at least two people for almost $50,000.

He registered a roofing company in Kelowna and in November 2018 he scammed a Coldstream couple in their 80s out of $12,000 for roofing he didn't even start.

Six months earlier he'd conned a Burnaby couple out of $37,000 for another roofing contract.

The Burnaby file was transferred to Ontario and became one of the 66 convictions for fraud Arnold was found guilty of.

However, the court heard how the Vernon RCMP and Crown prosecutors had acted exceptionally slowly on the Coldstream file.

Defence lawyer Laura McPheeters pointed out that it had taken three years from the date of the offence for Arnold to be charged.

"On December 18, 2018... (the RCMP) had all the essential information of this case," McPheeters told the court. "There were many gaps when this presumable sat on... (the) constable's desk. This happened when he was in possession of all the essential facts," she said.

Police did pass the file to prosecutors in March 2021 – more than two years after they had the essential information.

However, from there the Crown sat on the report for more than a year and only finally charged Arnold in June this year.

McPheeters argued the police and Crowns delays meant Arnold couldn't have his file transferred to Ontario where it would be included with his 66 charges and not result in any more jail time.

She argued Arnold should receive one year in jail but have it included in the Ontario sentence, with would mean he would be released from custody immediately.

However, B.C. Provincial Court Judge Jeremy Guild disagreed.

"I appreciate Mr. Arnold has the right to silence and doesn't have to implicate himself, but that was certainly an avenue he could have used to deal with this matter," the judge said. "He decided to exercise his right to silence, he took a gamble believing he wouldn't be charged."

The judge said he would sentence Arnold separately from the Ontario charges.

Little was said about Arnold's life in court and no reason was given for why he was in Kelowna in 2018.

He does however have ties to the region.

In 1993, he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for a fraud that took place in Kelowna. The conviction was for fraud over $1,000.

He appears to have moved about a bit and in 1999 was convicted of fraud over $2,000 in Alberta.

A few years later in 2012, he received a suspended sentence for fraud while in Calgary and later that year was sentenced to two years in jail for a fraud that took place in Ottawa.

Arnold's parole board decision says he's also been charged but not convicted for obstruction, uttering a forged document, possessing a counterfeit mark, and nine more charges of fraud over and under $5,000.

His parole board decision said Arnold was born in Montreal and was exposed to the criminal lifestyle when his mother married a man that owned strip clubs. While Arnold has no issues with drugs or alcohol, he had had a gambling addiction

His defence lawyer said he was writing a book called The Dark Days of Fraud.

"You have left a trail of victims who may never be fully compensated for their losses," the parole board report read. "You have moved to other provinces and changed your name to continue your pattern of victimizing others. You have preyed on the elderly and vulnerable."

The Vernon courtroom heard how the couple in their 80s were devastated after they were defrauded and could no longer trust people.

Crown prosecutors argued he should spend 12 to 18 months in jail.

Judge Guild decided five months was more appropriate.

"You've got a bad past, you like to steal from people, hopefully, you are going to change, you're 65 it's about time," the judge said.

With time already served Arnold will spend another 27 days in jail

While Arnold was sentenced to 12 years in 2019, in less than a month he'll be back out and about, albeit on parole.

READ MORE: Boy, 11, shot three times in father's shootout, chase with Merritt RCMP last year

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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