Jan Fulkerson, one of many London-area women who lost in the so-called Muffin Club pyramid scheme, should get her money back, a London judge has ruled. But the lawyer for Delores Roberts, the woman Fulkerson sued for the return of her $5000, said yesterday the judgment will be appealed.
In a complex 24-page decision, Deputy Justice Clifford Reeves said although the pyramid scheme was illegal, Fulkerson was entitled to a refund because her cheque was deposited to Roberts's account and never delivered to operators of the scheme.
"She was not attempting to enforce an illegal contract. She was seeking restitution of money wrongfully converted to use by Delores."
He ruled Fulkerson also made a quick effort at "repentance" by asking for her money back.
Fulkerson, a London realtor, said the four-year legal battle in small claims court was worth the effort. She said she has received at least a dozen calls from other women who lost money in the scheme.
"It's certainly good news for the thousand other woman who got burned," Fulkerson said. "We've highlighted that it is a winnable case."
But Roberts's lawyer, Michael Lerner, warned potential claimants the case was far from over. He said Reeves appeared to ignore some significant facts in his decision.
"Anybody inclined to come forward would probably want to wait for the outcome of the appeal."
The Muffin Club was the name for a pyramid scheme that started in the Barrie area and spread through the province.
Women were invited to attend parties where an "investment" scheme was pitched. They were asked to bring cash, often using muffin tins.
In November 1999, Fulkerson attended a gathering hosted by Roberts and her daughter, Julie Scapinello.
Fulkerson gave Roberts a cheque for $5,000.
She testified she tried to get the money back from Roberts and Scapinello soon after but they refused to return it.
Roberts, Scapinello and Fulkerson all testified they did not know the scheme was illegal until January 2000, after reading articles in The Free Press.
Roberts said she got involved in the scheme after attending a meeting held by a woman named Linda, whose last name nobody seemed to know.
Lerner argued Fulkerson was driven by greed and wanted to profit from the scheme, offering the names of her daughters as potential investors.
He noted under provincial law, anyone who loses money in an illegal scheme is not entitled to sue to get it back.
Fulkerson's lawyer, Cynthia Mackenzie, noted the provincial Competition Act does allow victims of a pyramid scheme to recover damages under certain conditions.
Reeves was left to sort through a stack of case law on the issue. He ruled the Gaming Act did not apply because no one in London was prosecuted for the scheme.
He also said he believed Fulkerson's claims she wanted her money back.
They charged through the door of the "range" consisting of three empty cells where I had been placed earlier. I was sitting alone writing and preparing my case. Without witnesses the four guards grabbed me. I yelled I have osteoporosis. With that a guard from behind kicked, punched, or kneed me in the back breaking my ribs. I was lifted off the ground and choked by the reinforcing around the neck of the heavy orange tee shirt. It was Mother's Day 2003.
I was dragged down a flight of stairs my feet off the ground. The guard called they call "Tex" continued choking me with my shirt as we stood in front of the solitary confinement cell. He then gave a sudden yank breaking the reinforcing against my neck. I was thrown on the floor of the cell. Unable to get to get to my feet. I was given my calcium pill for osteoporosis in a small paper cup placed on the floor. I asked to be helped to my feet to get water. The guards laughed, and to my shock and dismay so also did the nurse. I remained on the floor and it took what seemed to be hours to finally inch myself to the solid concrete slab which was my bed. X-rays would later reveal several broken ribs. Until then I had never been subjected to this level of vicious physical treatment by authorities. I could not believe a nurse, a caregiver, would join in an act this inhumane. Not in my country.
I was angry, hurt, humiliated. I told them I worked with my hands. I create things. I show children how to make beautiful things of clay and wood and I look back at what I have done and I am proud of what I see. As you look at what you have done, are you proud? They laughed and slammed the door of the filthy cell, faeces and traces of blood on the walls, spider webs and dust in the approximate four inch small round ventilation hole.
I had been harassed continually by a young guard who kept pounding on my door and making childish faces, stretching his mouth out of shape. I was called names. A "Stupid f-ing senile old coot. He made signs indicating a "crazy" person. He made signs of a gun at his head when I begged him compassionately and in tears if he would leave me in peace because I was contemplating the useless suicide death of my son.
He asked if I wanted him to "crack the cell", that's "jail jargon" for come in and administer a beating. He began opening the cell. I had enough. I told just told him to get it over with and bash my head against the wall. As he withdrew and in a most callous tone and look, he peered though the small window and said "I like it better this way." He continued the harassment. In the morning I complained to the Superintendent. He stood outside my cell as this guard stood beside him again making faces. The Superintendent did nothing. The harassment only increased.
It was earlier when I had been on a hunger strike for three days. Guards turned off the water for over twelve hours. The doctor who comes in only once a week just happened to be in that morning and ordered my water turned back on. I don't know how long they would have continued depriving me of water. I was on a hunger strike. They could have simply said I "refused water" as well, and died.
I was shipped to London Ontario and again placed in solitary confinement and subjected to threatening, demeaning and abusive tactics. For ten days I was not allowed to call a lawyer, my family, a minister, no one. I was subjected to threats and mistreatment by a huge guard named Mike, feared by the other prisoners. Another young guard harassed me. I was demeaned and terrorized, told I was in for "sucking little boy's c-ks." When I told him he did not know what I was in for, he replied "that what we've told the other prisoners. What do you think they're going to do to you when you're put in the "range.""
I was 62 years old. I have no criminal record. I was awaiting trial, an accused only, convicted of nothing. But I do know what prisoners do to people like that. I could not take solitary confinement having been locked in a locker at the Y.M.C.A. when I was a boy. I had several panic attacks, passed out twice. One guard never looked in the cells as he did his rounds. To have a heart attack would be a certain death sentence in that jail. I was also terrified to be put into the "range" believing they had spread this false rumour throughout the jail and I would be beaten up or stabbed. But, as it turned out, they had not told the other prisoners. The guard had said it to harass and terrorize me.
I was put on an overdose of Psychotic medication against my will, rendered unconscious within minutes and taken to a psychiatric hospital. This is confirmed in hospital records.
I was harassed in so many inhumane ways in my four months waiting for trial. The reason I was committed to jail and held without bail was false evidence given by an assistant Crown Attorney that I had broken an "Exclusive Possession Order." I have now proven there was no such Order. To inflame the court he told the Superior Court Judge that after this order was in place I continually broke into my estranged wife's home and took my cloths off and said "you know here I am." Even my estranged wife did not accuse me of this. While admitting, in his own words "100% he has no criminal record" this prosecutor said I had been held in jail on contempt several years previous on a family matter. In have never been committed to jail on a family matter, nor have I ever been in court on a family matter. All the while I was being held in solitary confinement harassed by guards, unable to hear or defend myself against these false and inflammatory accusations. These false accusations were self serving in that they kept me in jail longer without bail.
News of abuse of human rights filters into Canada from seemingly closed totalitarian regimes. To have abuses made public in this country is almost impossible except in rare cases when the frozen body of a Native is found in the snow, or a native is shot in a demonstration not far from where I lived, or years later finally something is done to help people like Steven Truscott and David Milgaard.
Surely what I endured in the Jail at Walkerton Ontario Canada is torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" forbidden by the Universal Delclaration of Human Rights, Article 5 "
.... Does Article 5 not apply in Canadian Jails?
David John Thornton
Can anyone help me. I am victim of police harassment, lies, perjury, administrative abuse, I have been beaten by guards, my ribs broken, held in solitary confinement when I was told I must appear "in body" at my bail review. I am 63 years old, I have no criminal record, and am still on trial since March 19th 2003 when I was arrested..
I have been charged with criminal harassment over a period of 170 days. I have no lawyer. I have been trying to study the law to defend myself. The Charter of Rights and Freedom guarantees me a fair trail. The Charter says I must be informed of the Specific Act or Acts complained of "thus giving him the possibility of a full defence and fair trial." They will not commit themselves on my summons to a specific incident or incidents. My summons does not "disclose my offence or offences".
Each time I discredit a witness or the evidence given in court, a new unsubstantiated allegation replaces it, or the Crown says they have abandoned that evidence and witness. The judge says I will know what my charges are by the evidence coming from the witness stand. In a bizarre incident I asked the Judge "I have been accused of spreading false rumours. Is this an act of criminal harassment I must defend against?"
The Judge looked at the Prosecutor who said nothing. The Judge said "I take it from the Crown's silence that it is included." I am to assume what my charges are then attempt to mount a defence based upon the silence of the Prosecutor. This is absurd, and a violation of the basic principal to know in advance, in writing and on record what your alleged criminal acts are.
I have discovered the law also requires the Prosecutor provide "particulars of the charge." This has been totally ignored. It what fascists regimes engage in, like Nazi Germany. A citizen is charged with "Crimes Against the state". He askes "What have I done?" The answer? You'll find out at the end of your trial.
The Prosecution, Police and Justice of the Peace are engaged in a number of dirty tricks. One of the most outrageous was during my Bail review of May 28th 2003. I was told I had to be in court bodily. However, I was held in solitary confinement harassed by guards and unable to defend myself against false accusations by the Prosecutor.
The prosecutor told a Superior Court Judge, in my absence, that there was an "Exclusive Possession Order" and I kept breaking into my home. There was no such order. Under Section 19 of the Family Law Act I was legally in my home in the process of voluntarily moving out.
He then made these disgusting and inflammatory remarks that I continually broke into my home (after this nonexistent "Order"was in place) and took my clothes off in front of my wife on a continuing basis. Even my wife did not accuse me of doing that. He did acknowledge in his own words that "....100% correct he does not have a criminal record." but stated I had been "jailed for contempt in a 'family deal' some years before."
I have never been in court in a family matter in my life, nor held in jail on contempt in a family matter ever. But I was unable to respond to these false statements as I was being "held and harassed" in solitary confinement by jail guards.
The two prosecutors have been removed from the case but these statements remain on record and nothing has been done to correct the damage and implications of this false and highly inflammatory evidence.
My complaints to the Regional Crown concerning the conduct of the two assistant prosecutors were simply ignored. I complained to the Attorney General and am told the matter is before the court. I have pointed out that my court hearing is irrelevant to the conduct of the prosecutor and is separate and apart from my charges and not before any court.
This is only a fraction of the violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Rules of Evidence and Procedure and the Due Process of Law. Please, where do I get help when my basic Civil and Human Rights have been violated and my complaints ignored?
The office of the Ontario Ombudsman has unbelievably told me to go to the B.B.C. (The British Broadcasting Corporation in England!!!) with my story.
The motive behind this political harassment is absolutely horrendous and began several years ago when I reported the abuse of seniors at a government run home where a senior was killed, and later when I went up against a former RCMP officer acting as a private bailiff who was illegally seizing business with the cooperation of the police. That was a political and legal mess but I was right in law and stood "bodily" against the police and bailiff. The Crown Attorney, when he realised I was serious and would fight them physically backed the police off and allowed the restaurant owner into his premises to regain his property. The bailiff had thrown his business records, hundreds of dollars in chargex draughts, staff uniforms, and personal items in the dumpster which were recovered only minutes before the truck was to take his property to the dump. His complaints to police about the theft and attempt to destroy his property was met with further harassment and intimidation.
I attempted to expose this corrupt system which involved corruption in the Crown's Office, the Registrar of Bailiffs, Police and government and exists to this day. Because of this and other civil and human rights I have attempted to preserve I have become a target and a victim of official abuse.
On March 19th 2003, police illegally searched my vehicle on the pretence of looking for "tiny screws" belonging to two interior locks of my home, again on the pretext of having a Court Order baring me from my home. A Court Order which is now proven nonexistent.
During that search they found political material, political cartoon's and campaign material including my intentions to expose a local private bailiff for illegally seizing businesses in this area, and the involvement of the local sheriff. Also corruption within the police force, local MPP
and School Board Official. I was going to run as an MPP until I was jailed and my reputation destroyed with these disgusting, inflammatory, sexually explicit lies.
All they did was find a disgruntled wife, and others highly motivated. Then trumped up lies, exaggerated evidence, added a disgusting sexual element and "railroaded" me into jail where I was held for four months on the speculation I might harm my wife. Another Charter breach Collins v. Regina. My estranged wife has now confirmed what she told investigating officers that "I never hit her in our entire 23 year relationship nor had I been violent to date. She testified she has hit me on more than one occasion.
Contrary to her denial to police that she was recording my phone calls, she admitted in court having done so. The contents of my private communications were passed onto police including my knowledge of criminal conduct of prominent people being protected by police and prosecutors.
She also admitted to being involved in a fraud well over 5,000. There is indisputable evidence that her lawyer's wife was also involved.
In spite of all these revelations I am still on trial. This is only because my basic rights to a fair trial, "Equality before the Law and Protection of the Law", the right to be fully informed of my charges, and the right of due process are being ignored.
Having been totally ejected from my community, and my business, at 63 with no formal education past grade ten I am only weeks from bankruptcy.
I have been told by the Judge I cannot personally subpoena the witnesses that can prove me innocent and I have no money left for a process server. They will win by their own default, lies and perjury. A total violation of a citizen's rights.
For over a year I have attempted to get help. Please, Can your organization help me.
David John Thornton