We’ve been trying for a week to find someone to explain to us why Chris Penty isn’t facing criminal charges.
It’s harder than it sounds.
Penty was the Kelowna lawyer who wrote himself into his client’s will, then pocketed or gained from nearly every penny of it, despite his client’s instructions to donate it to charity.
We know about this because the Law Society of B.C. investigated after someone in Penty’s own office reported him (there should be prizes for truly courageous people like that) and the society published all its information last week. They accepted Penty’s resignation and now he can’t practice law for seven years.
Yeah, grab a tissue.
No talk of restitution, no mention of criminal charges — nothing but temporary loss of a lucrative career.
The RCMP, of course, won’t confirm if they are investigating, but they also typically don’t begin an investigation like this without a complaint. We checked with the Law Society and while they would gladly hand over information, it’s “not their mandate” to make criminal complaints.
That seems a little odd considering in this case, the only wronged party — the client, on whose behalf they were investigating — is long dead and can’t sue or make a complaint. But the society doesn’t exist for complainants, it “ensures the public is well served by legal professionals who are honourable and competent.”
Maybe they believe that preventing Penty from practicing law is enough to make the rest of us think they are keeping lawyers honest? Hmm? Is that what you think they did?
We’re pretty sure we know who Penty's client was, but can’t seem to find his family. Do they know the case won’t be investigated without a complaint?
We also know no one has yet sued Penty for restitution, which may be hard since the lawyer said his client did not want his family to have his estate. Again, we have only his word on that.
So, as you can see, finding someone to explain all this is not easy at all. Lawyers won’t touch it, police can’t touch it. So that’s why this ends up in my opinion column.
And in my experience and my observation, this is just how justice is not done in this country.
Or, more specifically, it’s how justice is divided among classes in this country.
We have seen Crime Stoppers use its considerable resources to find shoplifters who took meat from a grocery store. In Kamloops, police and bylaw officers are deployed in teams to take back shopping carts from homeless people and addicts; in Kelowna, they are moving along people sleeping or loitering on streets and seem to have a fetish for vehicle infractions.
The courts are clogged with drugs and thugs and thieves and breaches. That’s who our police forces are geared for, that’s what they recruit for. That’s the priorities of the chambers of commerce and City Halls.
I don’t even necessarily take issue with those priorities. But you almost never see white collar criminals in the dockets anymore unless it’s some identity theft to obtain credit cards, bad cheques or cheap fraud.
The irony is that the unjust enrichment from just this one case far out-prices the collective damages from all the shopping carts and rib roasts and fake credit card purchases. I would argue the public nuisance of diminished faith in the law is even greater than homeless camps or shopping carts.
There’s no need for general or specific deterrence here?
Of course there is. But when politicians, lawyers, the wealthy or the clergy get caught committing crimes, they apologize or they resign and that’s just where it’s left.
It’s only the little guys who have no money for fines or careers to lose who end up in prisons or otherwise restricted liberties when they commit crimes with even a shade of proportion.
That’s just how it works. Please, tell me I’m wrong.
— Marshall Jones is the editor of iNFOnews.ca