Money manager accused of defrauding 9,200 makes surprise guilty plea

MONTREAL — A white-collar criminal accused of defrauding 9,200 people in a massive scheme walked into court in uncharacteristically casual attire Monday, sporting a gym bag, running shoes and a sweater in anticipation of a trip to jail.

Former Norbourg president Vincent Lacroix arrives at the Montreal courthouse for the beginning of his trial for securities fraud charges

MONTREAL — A white-collar criminal accused of defrauding 9,200 people in a massive scheme walked into court in uncharacteristically casual attire Monday, sporting a gym bag, running shoes and a sweater in anticipation of a trip to jail.

Vincent Lacroix shocked a courtroom by pleading guilty to 200 fraud-related criminal charges — this after he had spent years vigorously proclaiming his innocence.

The only inkling of the abrupt shift came in Lacroix’s garb as he arrived wearing clothes and accessories more suitable for an extended trip to the big house rather than the prisoner’s dock in the courthouse.

The former head of Norbourg Inc. entered the pleas in Quebec Superior Court and was immediately sent to prison.

“My client decided to turn the page,” said Lacroix’s lawyer, Marie-Helene Giroux.

“He knew he would be detained. He brought his bag with him to go to jail.”

Sentencing arguments will be heard Friday. Jury selection will continue for the five other co-accused in the case.

Lacroix had been accused of illegally appropriating more than $100 million in a trust-fund scam.

He had already begun serving a prison term after being convicted in 2007 for securities violations but the sentence was reduced, he had already left jail and he was set to get full parole on Sept. 27.

The upcoming sentencing will produce a rare legal dilemma for the court: Because Lacroix has already been convicted and punished for related crimes — but in a separate, civil court case — will the previous time served be subtracted from his sentence?

When asked about her client’s state of mind, Giroux said: “He is relieved because he was under a lot of the stress of going under a jury trial.”

She moved to stamp out speculation Lacroix had copped a plea with prosecutors, whereby he would testify against his co-accused in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

The Crown confirmed there was no agreement on a sentence. Giroux said there has not yet been any indication the Crown would even ask Lacroix to testify in the case of the other five accused. However, she said discussions are underway with the Crown about sentencing conditions.

Victims expressed mixed sentiments about Monday’s development.

Pierre Gravel lost $300,000 — $200,000 of which he managed to recover.

“It’s not just the money, but also the situation it created in my family and all the dreams that I was building,” Gravel said in an interview.

“(The plea is) excellent news. It will save Quebec taxpayers (money) by getting rid of a trial that could have been very, very long.”

Victim Jean-Guy Houle saw his granddaughters’ inheritance — $200,000 — go up in smoke. And he’s dismayed by the idea Lacroix might still manage to spend some of it.

“I’m very, very, very, very disappointed and it’s not just me,” Houle said. “I’m speaking on behalf of many investors who are very disappointed with that.

“Where is the rest of the money which is hidden? He will want to take advantage (of this). He’ll pay his debt to society, he’ll be three years without a passport, he’ll ask for a pardon, he’ll get a passport. . .

“Mr. Lacroix will serve one-sixth of his sentence and, in seven or eight years, he will be walking around in the sun spending investors’ money. He will be taking advatange of our assets until we’re dead and gone.”

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month