Walter Garrick convicted of defrauding former Argos Damon Allen and Michael “Pinball” Clemons
Published on Wednesday December 19, 2012
RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR
Walter Garrick received his judgment on Wednesday at 361 University Ave. and walked out of Osgoode Hall.
A man posing as a wealthy investor has been convicted of defrauding former Toronto Argonauts players Michael “Pinball” Clemons and Damon Allen and others out of nearly $250,000.
Walter Garrick sat motionless in a University Ave. courtroom on Wednesday as Justice David McCombs found him guilty on eight of 10 counts of fraud and theft over $5,000.
The judge said he rejected “completely” Garrick’s evidence at trial, saying it was “full of obfuscation, implausibilities, and outright lies.”
The 42-year-old Oakville man was convicted of defrauding Allen and Clemons as well as former child actor Ken Vadas (best known for appearing alongside Tim Allen in The Santa Clause) and former Sick Kids specialist Dr. Rahim Valani.
He was found not guilty of fraud and theft charges related to photographer Richard Foltys. In his reasons for judgment, McCombs said some of the evidence Foltys gave was “implausible”.
Outside the courtroom, Garrick said he didn’t agree with McCombs decision, but added he greatly respected the conduct of both the judge and Crown Attorney John Scutt throughout the process.
“This is the way justice should look,” Garrick said. “But I just happen to be a really bad lawyer.”
Garrick represented himself at the judge-only trial that often took bizarre detours over points of procedure and lines of questioning. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges in October, claiming he himself was a victim of deception.
But the Crown successfully argued Garrick intentionally deceived the four victims into investing tens of thousands each, posing as a successful Ivy-League trained businessman and then spending their cash on personal expenses — clothing, cars and rentals.
The Crown supplemented testimony from all five complainants and seven other witnesses with evidence books full of financial records showing money orders and cheques deposited into accounts controlled by Garrick.
Saying he had a trust account initiated by his grandfather and access to $3.5 million in the U.S., Garrick testified he became wealthy after investments that included buying into Google’s stock in its early days.
It’s something investigating officer Det. Alex Gauthier, formerly with the Toronto police fraud squad, still has trouble accounting for.
“The only connection he has to Google is if you Google his name the fraud charges come up,” Gauthier told the Star.
Gauthier first heard Garrick’s name two years ago when he was passed the case. He said he’s never worked another fraud like it.
The first time the two met was at the beginning of the end — sitting a couple of metres apart on the bleachers at a football game being played by Garrick’s son. It was 4 p.m. on a late September day in 2007.
“Are you Walter Garrick?” the detective asked him.
Garrick had no idea what was coming next, Gauthier said.
The detective told Garrick he was under arrest and cuffed his hands in front of him, placing his Burberry coat — the same one he wore often to trial — over his hands so as not to make a scene in front of his son.
“He thinks he’s unaccountable,” Gauthier said. “If you say the same thing enough maybe you start believing it.”
On Wednesday, Garrick said he never had any “criminal intent,” but shoulders the burden nonetheless, since he adamantly maintains he forwarded the money to his elusive business partner, Yan Valle, from his trust account.
“I’ve been wearing this coat of guilt . . . I hold 100-per-cent responsibility for that,” he said. “The mistake I made was putting that in somebody else’s hands.
“The buck stops with Walter Garrick, I guess.”
After the verdict was delivered, Vadas said he was satisfied with the outcome.
“Although I have very strong doubts, I hope that Garrick will learn and possibly change who he is and how he handles himself in the future,” he said.
Earlier in January, Garrick was convicted of defrauding three men in Halton Region whom he met through his son’s football activity.
Garrick would not say whether he plans to will appeal Wednesday’s conviction, for which he will be sentenced as a first offender.
He will return to court Jan. 14.