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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police will be working to arrest as many people with active warrants as possible during #VicPDWarrantWednesday May 12. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police aim to make mass arrests during #VicPDWarrantWednesday

Officers working to locate people with active arrest warrants

According to Statistics Canada, Greater Victoria’s unemployment rose half a per cent to 6.2 per cent in April 2021 compared to the previous month. (Black Press Media File)
Unemployment in Greater Victoria continues to rise

April figures peg local unemployment at 6.2%

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

Rendering of a possible amphitheatre on the bluffs at the south end of the Royal Beach development. (Seacliff Properties image)
Colwood signs development agreement for Royal Beach at old quarry

Plan includes 18 hectares of park, 2,850 homes and lots of retail

Passengers onboard WestJet flight 3116 from Victoria to Calgary May 5 may have been exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
New flight exposure reported between Calgary and Victoria

Passengers on WestJet flight 3116 May 5 affected

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vancouver court on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Defence lawyers call foul as Crown counsel granted access to COVID-19 vaccines

Defence attorneys are pushing the province to extend inoculation access to workers in courtrooms across B.C.

A Nanaimo RCMP officer is recovering after his patrol car was hit by another vehicle at an intersection on Monday, May 10. (Photo courtesy Julia Rose)
RCMP vehicle broad-sided in Nanaimo intersection crash

Police officer recovering at home following collision Monday

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Most Read