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EDMONTON — An Alberta man deemed the “ringleader” in a multimillion-dollar rural mortgage scam has been sentenced to three years in prison.

EDMONTON — An Alberta man deemed the “ringleader” in a multimillion-dollar rural mortgage scam has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Eugene Chamczuk, 40, was also ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution to the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation, Genworth Financial, CIBC and TD Canada Trust.

Justice Richard Marceau rejected a defence pitch for a conditional sentence to be served in the community, saying a four-year prison term would have been appropriate, but he knocked off a year for Chamczuk’s guilty plea.

The judge ruled the size of the $3.9-million mortgage fraud was aggravating, as was the fact there were 32 separate frauds committed over two years and many of the so-called straw buyers — bogus loan applicants — lost their life savings, relationships and health.

However, Marceau refused to order restitution to any of the straw buyers because they accepted a $5,000 payment to get involved and some had written false affidavits.

Chamczuk, a former builder, pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud over $5,000 in November.

According to agreed facts, he was a co-owner of Canadian Best Homes Ltd., and the mortgage fraud involved 31 residential lots they owned in the Warburg and Empress area between 2000 and 2002.

The scam had straw buyers duped into exchanging their names and credit information for a $5,000 fee. They were then left on the hook for the fraudulent mortgages.

After the mortgages were paid out, the lenders and insurers gave the money to Canadian Best Homes.