Last February we brought you the story of two private investigators, Cullen Johnson and Elaine White, after a number of Canadians came forward saying they were victimized by the pair’s misleading business. The two would investigate suspicions of money hidden by an ex-spouse or business partner for clients, but instead of finding the facts, they fabricated fiction by making up bank accounts and fraudulent documents.
Both Johnson and White have now pleaded guilty to money laundering and they were sentenced, Thursday, to five years and six months in a U.S. federal penitentiary. Johnson and White have been in custody in Newport News, Virginia since August 2012.
In 2009, White and Johnson were also charged with fraud in Ontario. But before any day in court, they got on a plane and headed to the Caribbean. After three years of sunshine and beaches, Johnson and White were arrested for a minor immigration violation in the Turks and Cacaos and extradited to the U.S. to face fraud charges in Virginia to answer for their crimes against American victims.
Eric Cunningham, a former Ontario MPP, says he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars clearing his name after Cullen and Johnson alleged he had hidden $2.4 million offshore in 18 different tax havens, false documents that were used in a divorce trail against him.
“It’s hard not to feel some sense of vindication,” he says. “But It’s a very little prison sentence to repair the damage that I have – and so many others – have suffered.”
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Cunningham says the damage White and Johnson caused him was lasting and horrific. Knowing Johnson is now a convicted felon, Cunningham says, can provide him with a sense of closure.
“The facts of the matter are – they’ve been engaged in this activity for far too long. I’m gratified that they’re off the streets – at least for a few years.”
While the American legal system takes action against Johnson and White, critics say regulators in Canada should have acted faster to bring justice to their clients here.
“I’d love to see them brought back to Canada and face the justice system here. I think it would be good if they could stand in front of the Canadian courts and their accusers and answer to the crimes that were committed on Canadian soil” says Roger Miller, President of Council of Private Investigators of Atlantic Canada.
But Miller doesn’t place the blame on the legal system in Canada. He says the provincial regulators that oversee investigators are at fault.
“I think this still falls back to the regulators had they intervened and taken these two through the legal channels the legal system would have had a chance to work faster.”
Canadians may have to wait until Johnson and White complete their sentences to bring them to trial here. At which point it will be up to the Ontario authorities to determine whether or not to prosecute them for charges they face in Canada.