Andrij Olesiuk has been sentenced to 14 months in jail for setting up a fake Humboldt Broncos GoFundMe page and posing as a hedge fund manager for a made-up company.
Olesiuk, 33, was convicted in January of committing fraud under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime. On Tuesday, he admitted to also committing investor fraud of $65,000.
Judge Brent Klause accepted a joint submission of a three-month jail sentence consecutive to 11 months for the investor fraud. Olesiuk must also complete 40 hours of community service.
Olesiuk was ordered to repay the investors-turned-victims and GoFundMe, as the crowdfunding website has already refunded its donors.
During trial, Olesiuk testified that the roughly $4,000 his online campaign raised was always destined for the Humboldt Broncos.
He set up the page one day after the junior hockey team’s bus crash on April 6, 2018. Sixteen people died and 13 were injured.
As Canadians mourned the tragedy, Olesiuk testified that a woman showed up at his door step collecting donations for the team. He claimed to have turned over the money he raised for her to donate.
Olesiuk said he recieved a receipt, but it was lost in a house fire. Court received a ‘thank you’ letter, which the Crown said was faked.
The story was simply too incredible to believe, the judge determined.
Olesiuk’s GoFundMe scheme may have never been revealed if not for an investigation into an even larger fraud, to which the man pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
From March 2017 to February 2018, Olesiuk posed as a “hedge fund manager of some sort,” making money on cannabis stocks, Crown prosecutor Darren Howarth said in court.
He convinced a B.C. couple to become investors, giving them bogus invoices, account statements and other falsified documents.
“He was not a financial trader of any sort,” Howarth said.
The pair of inexperienced investors gave Olesiuk $40,000 through numerous transactions with Aero Capital Inc. – a fake business Olesiuk admits to having conjured up.
The couple suggested Olesiuk’s services to a family member, who gave Olesiuk $25,000 in a single transaction. The family member, a retiree, was living on a pension and had limited assets, court heard.
When one of the investors wanted to withdraw some money, “everything went cold,” Howarth said.
There was no response.
“Whatever his intentions, it was a scam right from the start,” Howarth told court.
His lawyer, John Rozdilsky, stated Olesiuk lived with ADHD and depression as a child. In adulthood, he was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to the defence.
Olesiuk declined to speak in court. Rozdilsky apologized on his behalf.
“It is indeed sad that Mr. Olesiuk will wear this for the rest of his life,” Rozdilsky said.
“He is the author of his own misfortune.”