Red Deer businessman sentenced for Internet fraud scheme

A Red Deer businessman was sentenced to two years in jail on Friday after milking $150,000 from numerous American customers through an Internet fraud scam involving equipment and trucks used in the paper shredding business.

A Red Deer businessman was sentenced to two years in jail on Friday after milking $150,000 from numerous American customers through an Internet fraud scam involving equipment and trucks used in the paper shredding business.

Lesley Jerry Billett, 47, pleaded guilty in Red Deer provincial court to 37 fraud-related charges in connection with incidents that occurred between January 2007 and July 2011. Four charges unrelated to fraud were withdrawn.

Crown prosecutor Tony Bell said that Billett would gain customers by offering trucks or equipment for paper shredding businesses and he would then accept deposits. But then the equipment or trucks would never get delivered.

Most of the customers came from the United States and one from Saudi Arabia.

“At one point, he did actually deliver the equipment but it was not as originally described,” said Bell.

Billett also used a credit card number from a customer.

In total, Billett swindled $150,000 and about 26 per cent of that has been repaid, Bell said.

He was charged on April 6, 2011, with 26 counts and then more charges were further laid.

Bell said that Billett avoided a costly trial that would have involved witnesses from the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Both the Crown and defence submitted a recommendation of two years plus one day in a federal penitentiary, with no credit served in pre-trial custody.

Defence lawyer Brad Mulder said that since Billett’s offences came to light, it has ruined his marriage and affected his three children.

Mulder said that his client grew up in Saskatchewan and later moved to Vancouver where he had a paper shredding business for 18 years.

He later operated a similar business in Red Deer, where he would find trucks or equipment and then ship it to other companies.

Mulder said that Billett initially got taken by a business and was out $65,000 to $70,000.

“He was financially in trouble so he would take deposits for things he couldn’t deliver,” said Mulder.

Mulder said the local organizations were paid back when the credit card issue came to light.

Billett had been involved in different clubs in Red Deer and had been vice-president of the Red Deer Lacrosse Association, said Mulder.

He had been in custody since March 27 and has no previous criminal record.

Mulder said that Billett had been trying to pay off some of his customers by selling his house, but the Canada Revenue Agency then got involved with retrieving income taxes.

Judge Gordon Deck read over a number of victim statements from individuals who said that Billett has hurt their lives in various ways. One man said he is 18 months behind in building his business because of the fraud. Another said that they had trusted working with a business in Canada but won’t anymore. Another was worried that they may not be able to acquire a business loan.

Many mentioned how it affected them emotionally and physically.

“People have good faith that people will do what they say and do,” said Deck.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,183 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

50.5% of all active cases are variants of concern

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie pose for a photo at the Mirror restaurant. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Alberta Health Services delivers ‘closure order’ to Mirror restaurant

Alberta Health Services says it has delivered a closure order to a… Continue reading

Flags bearers hold the Canadian flag high during the Flags of Remembrance ceremony in Sylvan Lake in this October file photo. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
New project to pay tribute to Canadians killed in Afghanistan

Flags of Remembrance scheduled for Sept. 11

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
Security and police block the entrance to GraceLife Church as a fence goes up around it near Edmonton on Wednesday April 7, 2021. The Alberta government has closed down and fenced off a church that has been charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules. Alberta Health Services, in a statement, says GraceLife church will remain closed until it shows it will comply with public-health measures meant to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hundreds gather to support Alberta church shut down for ignoring COVID-19 orders

SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. — Hundreds of people are gathered outside an Alberta… Continue reading

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces is developing contingency plans to keep COVID-19 from affecting its ability to defend the country and continue its missions overseas amid concerns potential adversaries could try to take advantage of the crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian special forces supported major Iraqi military assault on ISIL last month

OTTAWA — Some Canadian soldiers supported a major military offensive last month… Continue reading

A woman pays her repects at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The joint public inquiry in response to the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced a mandate that includes a probe of the RCMP response as well as the role of gender-based violence in the tragedy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Creating permanent memorial to Nova Scotia mass shooting victims a delicate task

PORTAPIQUE, N.S. — Creating a memorial for those killed in Nova Scotia’s… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Erin O’Toole says ‘I didn’t hide who I was’ running for Conservative leader

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole assured Conservative supporters that he never hid who… Continue reading

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, second from left, celebrates his goal with teammates, from left to right, Matthew Tkachuk, Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson, of Sweden, during second period NHL hockey action against the Edmonton Oilers, in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Jacob Markstrom earns shutout as Flames blank Oilers 5-0 in Battle of Alberta

CALGARY — It took Sean Monahan breaking out of his goal-scoring slump… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia's opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan's government, but they say Monday's throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province's economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s opposition parties acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented… Continue reading

A grizzly bear walks on a treadmill as Dr. Charles Robbins, right, offers treats as rewards at Washington State University's Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center in this undated handout photo. Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails like those commonly used by people, which can affect land management practices in wild areas, says an expert who has written a paper on their travel patterns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Anthony Carnahan *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Grizzly bears prefer walking on gentle slopes at a leisurely pace like humans: study

VANCOUVER — Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails… Continue reading

FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Moderna said Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, its COVID-19 shot provides strong protection against the coronavirus that's surging in the U.S. and around the world. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
The COVID-19 wasteland: searching for clues to the pandemic in the sewers

OTTAWA — When Ottawa Public Health officials are trying to decide whether… Continue reading

Most Read