A scammer who duped Ontario consumers out of more than $1.24 million has been released on day parole just six months after he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in federal prison.
“I think it’s outrageous,” said Karim Hajee, one of the victims of Adam Gardin — a contractor he hired for a large home renovation.
“Adam’s sentence is not a deterrent to anyone with intentions of swindling money from people.”
Hajee paid Gardin more than $150,000.
Gardin pleaded guilty to 11 charges of engaging in an unfair practice under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act. He was sentenced to 1,342 days in jail in July by Justice of the Peace Patrick Marum.
At the time, his sentence was hailed by the government as “one of the largest fines and longest jail terms imposed” as a result of prosecution under the act.
“It would have been better if he had just taken their money and walked away. He destroyed their houses. This has a greater impact — a lasting effect,” Crown prosecutor Jeremy Ludlow told the court.
“This is worse than fraud.”
Gardin was also fined $1.15 million and ordered to pay $856,355 in restitution.
The charges against Gardin and an additional 11 against his company, GarCon Building Group Limited, followed complaints from consumers who said Gardin accepted money for home renovations that did not take place.
Gardin placed the company in receivership on Jan. 6, 2015. He was charged after an investigation by the province’s consumer services ministry.
Following the prison sentence, Gardin appealed. In November, the sentence was reduced to 731 days by Justice Ramez Khawly of the Ontario Court of Justice.
On Feb. 11, the Parole Board of Canada granted Gardin day parole.
According to the board’s decision, it said Gardin would be moved “for six months to a community-based residential facility pending bed space availability.”
Gardin is eligible for full parole on March 25.
Board spokesperson Holly Knowles told Global News Gardin’s statutory release is Nov. 23.
“The paramount consideration in all Parole Board of Canada’s decisions is the protection of the public. Board decisions follow a thorough risk assessment taking into a wide range of information from various sources,” said Knowles in an email.
But Hajee, one of several of Gardin’s customers who gave witness impact statements at the sentencing, said the reduced sentence and early parole is wrong.
“Adam has proved he can make a mockery of the judicial system, steal people’s money and get away with it all thanks to an appeals judge and the parole board,” he said.
“If Adam were compelled to serve his full term with no parole, that would send a clear message to other would-be scammers that they can’t get away easily with defrauding people.”