Disgraced lawyer sent to prison

The Hamilton lawyer who helped win a $20-million lawsuit for the residents of Caledonia was sentenced Monday to penitentiary time after he was convicted of skimming $1.7 million of the funds.John Findlay pleaded guilty to fraud and breach of trust by taking the money that was held in trust for the people of Caledonia who suffered from an occupation of the town in 2006. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.“This is a good man who’s fallen from grace,” Findlay’s lawyer, Geoffrey Read, said on Tuesday.“The public can look at this and see there was an accounting and justice was done. But I hope they also look at what kind of a fellow this was.”Reid said his client had a long history of good behaviour and had reported himself to the law society and co-operated with the police.“It’s a shame, but he’s done everything a fellow could do.”The law firm Findlay McCarthy LLP was paid $3.3 million for its role in shepherding the Caledonia class-action suit through the courts.In an agreed statement of facts, the court was told Findlay moved another $1.7 million from the trust account to bank accounts of Trefoil Marine, a U.S. company that Findlay was operating.He was arrested in September last year and, in April, the Law Society of Ontario revoked his licence, ordering him to pay costs of $51,500 plus the missing $1.75 million.At that point Findlay wrote to the society and said he had made “substantial progress” in his efforts to make restitution but as of his arrest, he had only repaid $50,000.The suit, which involved hundreds of Caledonia businesses and residents, was designed to compensate those who had property damage or business losses during the occupation.Along with the $3.3 million paid to the lawyers, about $14.5 million went to members of the lawsuit. Findlay was to keep a reserve of about $2 million.Such a white-collar crime might not have even resulted in jail time a decade ago but Canadian sentences are increasing and the judge agreed such a breach of trust by a lawyer merited a penitentiary sentence.Assistant Crown attorney Fraser McCracken asked Justice Tory Colvin to consider a three-year sentence while Read suggested a 15- to 18-month jail sentence was more appropriate, noting the increase in sentences for major frauds occurred just after Findlay illegally began transferring the money.While the judge also ordered that Findlay repay the $1.7 million, Colvin acknowledged that a disgraced lawyer will have little opportunity to do that once out of prison.The judge declined to make a penalty condition of further prison time if Findlay doesn’t pay up.The law society becomes involved in such cases and has replaced the missing funds so it will be to that entity Findlay owes the money.“He wants to make good on that,” said Read.“Justice has been done according to the law and hopefully he can return to being a good citizen when he’s released.”SGamble@postmedia.com@EXPSGamble read more

Columbus Crew unveils new uniforms preps for opener

Columbus Crew midfielder Federico Higuain (10) and defender Michael Parkhurst (4) model the teams new uniforms March 4 at Bar Louie in Columbus.Credit: Andrew Todd-Smith / Lantern photographerThe Columbus Crew is getting a new look.Columbus’ MLS franchise is set to begin its 2014 regular season Saturday, and the team enters its campaign with a new Adidas primary uniform, which was unveiled Tuesday at Bar Louie in the Arena District during a special event for Crew season ticket holders.The new Crew kit differs from its predecessor by featuring a textured monochromatic pattern of broad diamond shapes on the jersey, and the collar has been scrapped for the simpler look a crew neck provides.President and general manager Mark McCullers welcomed a crowd of several hundred fans dressed in Crew black-and-gold before the jersey was officially unveiled.The event gave the team brass an opportunity to greet and thank fans.“I’m so glad that you guys are with us on this journey, this new era,” McCullers said, then ceding the microphone to first-year coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter.Berhalter’s Nov. 6 hiring concluded the Crew’s search for former coach Robert Warzycha’s permanent replacement. Warzycha was released from his contract Sept. 2, and then-technical director Brian Bliss served as interim head coach for the final eight games of the season.“We’re excited about the season, we’re excited to have you guys behind us, we’re excited to unveil the jersey and we look forward to this Saturday’s game,” Berhalter said.McCullers and Berhalter then removed a large poster emblazoned with the team logo to expose an oversize mounted replica of the new Adidas jersey.At the same moment, Crew players overlooking the crowd from a second-floor balcony at the venue all removed their warmups to reveal their new jerseys, a surprise move that elicited loud cheers from those in attendance.“I love it. I mean, I think it’s lighter than last year’s jersey. No collar, I like it, it’s much cleaner,” midfielder Wil Trapp said. “I think it’s gonna come in handy when we get into the summer months and it’s humid. That takes a huge toll on your body, honestly. You want something that’s breathable and you can move around in.”Trapp said the material was similar to that of the team’s training jerseys but that the players have yet to wear-test the new kit on the field.In keeping with soccer tradition and MLS rules that dictate the goalkeeper’s jersey be of a different color than his teammates’, Columbus native and Ohio State product Matt Lampson’s jersey featured a turquoise-and-pink color scheme that he said is “very 80s retro.”Despite the different appearance of his uniform, Lampson corroborated Trapp’s testimonial of the fabric by saying it felt “comfortable, light (and) breezy.”“I’ve only seen this one and a green one that we have as well and I like them both,” Lampson said. “They’re very different, very progressive, compared to the typical ones we’ve had the past few seasons … I can’t wait to rep them on the field.”Former player and member of the 2008 MLS Cup-winning Columbus squad, Crew brand ambassador Frankie Hejduk was also on hand for the event.Functioning as an impromptu master-of-ceremonies after the unveiling, he invited fans up to the platform to start supporter chants for the crowd’s enjoyment.Hejduk also talked about the buzz surrounding the team leading into the regular season.“They dismantled (reigning MLS Cup Champions Sporting) KC like it was nothing, man,” Hejduk said of the team’s last outing, a 4-1 win that capped off an unbeaten five-game preseason slate. “You saw that counterattack going down. So they have some high expectations of this season and we’re gonna get behind them. Win or lose (or) draw, you know this: we bleed black and gold.”The Crew is scheduled to take the field against D.C. United in Washington, D.C., Saturday at 7 p.m. read more