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A St. Albert man will serve no jail time after pleading guilty to 28 counts of fraud, including an apartment rental scam.
On Monday Craig Archibald Ayers, 52, pleaded guilty to 28 of the 63 charges he was facing relating to fraud. He was given a two-year custodial sentence which will be served in the community. Ayers was also ordered to pay back $30,000 in restitution to his victims over three years.
The St. Albert resident told the court that he committed the fraud to pay off his son’s drug debts. He said his son had been struggling with addiction problems for many years. Ayers said that he was also trying to help out his then-girlfriend financially and help support his daughter.
Ayers’ counsel told the court that at the time he had been struggling with severe depression. During his financial troubles, he said he felt the need to maintain a “certain appearance and lifestyle.”
The incidents of fraud all took place in 2016 and he started writing large cheques from an account with just $26.68. The account was closed by the bank after it went $2,883.65 into overdraft.
He continued to write multiple bad cheques to businesses and organizations across the community in February, March, and April of 2016. Bad cheques were written to many businesses including a furniture store, landscaping company, and a hair salon.
He also wrote a fraudulent cheque to his daughter’s school so she could go on a trip.
On Nov. 6 Ayers wrote a cheque for $4,500 to purchase a French Bulldog puppy for his daughter from an account that had a balance of $14.81.
After writing the fraudulent cheques in some cases Ayers would attempt to pay back the businesses and owners the money they were owed.
Ayers was sentenced to two years of a custodial sentence to be served in the community along with one year of probation. The judge accepted the joint submission presented by the prosecutor and the defense counsel that was arrived at after lengthy negotiations.
For the first eight months of his sentence, Ayers will be under house arrest and can only leave his home under strict conditions, including going to work, court or for medical appointments or emergencies.
The next eight months of the sentence Ayers will no longer be under house arrest but will have to abide by a strict curfew and must be home between 9pm and 6am
Ayers is currently employed and must pay back $30,000 in restitution to his victims over three years, which amounts to $900 per month.
Prosecutor Damian Rogers said that this sentence was agreed upon because of the poor mental state of Ayers when the offenses were committed along with Ayers having a very limited criminal record before the 2016 frauds.
Read the full story over at St. Albert Gazette.