Year in jail for handyman fraud artist

Judge Robert Higginbotham sentenced Glen John French to 12 months for each of the 10 counts of fraud under $5,000.

A man who committed a string of handyman scams across Greater Victoria will spend another year behind bars, and has been ordered to repay his victims.

Today in Victoria provincial court, judge Robert Higginbotham sentenced Glen French to 12 months for each of the 10 counts of fraud under $5,000, to be served concurrently. That’s added to his three months in jail already served, due to his bail being revoked when he fled to Ontario.

Striking a curious image as a 62-year-old with tattoos crawling around his shaved head, French sat quietly through the proceedings and said nothing. None of the victims attended court.

Crown prosecutor Jocelyn Byrne described French, a Sooke resident, as a habitual con artist and liar, who entered into professional looking contracts with his victims for minor home handyman jobs, collected some money upfront, and either didn’t complete the work or start the job.

In many cases French used the excuse that his father had died to skip out on work, Byrne said. In one case, French ran into one of his victims at a hardware store in Victoria after claiming he would be out of town at his father’s funeral.

When his customers demanded he finish the work or return the down payment, he often turned viciously aggressive and threatened his victims with lawsuits.

“Every victim who met Mr. French, despite him being covered in tattoos, said he seemed like a very nice guy and people liked him,” Byrne noted.

The scams took place in 2009 and early 2010, and Byrne said that many of the victims reported their individual incidents with French to their local police, but were told it amounted to a civil contract dispute. The Saanich police suspected a pattern of fraud when it started investigating French in 2009.

”In every case people were told it was a civil matter. That’s how he got away with it for so long,” Byrne said. “Thank goodness the Saanich police fraud section … looked at the bigger picture. In all these cases they proved fraud, and that there was no intent to finish the work.”

French had already been convicted of fraud in Edmonton in 2006 and Saskatoon in 1992. The Better Business Bureau in Albert and Saskatchewan had issued warnings about French regarding his home renovation and snow removal services.

The court also heard that French’s daughter and ex-wife had given statements to police regarding his stream of scams and falsehoods, and had requested a no contact order. He is also estranged from his son.

“At 62 years of age, through his own fault, this man finds himself alone on the planet. His family has disowned him. He only has himself to blame. It’s a sad situation,” said Tom Morino, French’s lawyer. “He understands he is deserving of incarceration.”

“I think the sadness here is for the victims,” Higginbotham retorted. “Each trusted Mr. French and trusted him with funds in advance.

“I commend the constable from the Saanich police for putting this together …  if she hadn’t, this (fraud) would certainly be still going on.”

Const. Karen Phillips with the Saanich police financial crime unit said Const. Jerome Rozitis took complaints about French from a number of people, and was the first to notice a possible pattern of fraud.

“Rozitis felt it was something that needed to be looked at,” Phillips said. “It was surprising, it was quite a number (of victims).”

Phillips said she worked with the Victoria Better Business Bureau to locate people alleging they’d been ripped off by French. Victim statements and evidence was instrumental in establishing the larger, indisputable pattern of wrongdoing, she said.

“Most of the people did their due diligence and checked references. Sometimes that can fall through the cracks,” Phillips said. “It’s not their fault. It’s good people came forward. This case will help prevent others.”

French will have two years of probation after being released from prison, which includes not being allowed to advertise services as a handyman and not being allowed to run a service business.

Higganbotham also issued a restitution order that French repay his victims, although its unlikely French will have the means to do so.

editor@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read