Calgary’s Winsor sentenced to time served in U.S.
Must now face Alberta judge
A PENNSYLVANIA judge has sentenced Calgary’s Caroline Winsor for her role in a criminal bribery scheme, imposing a term equal to the time she has already served. The sentence amounts to about one year in jail. In addition, the judge has ordered her to serve three years of supervised release and to pay a $10,000 fine. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.)
Prosecutors claimed that Ms. Winsor (who is also known as Caroline Danforth and Caroline Meyers) was part of a scheme to pay a kickback to have corrupt brokers buy shares of two pink sheets listings, Viosolar Inc. and FACT Corp. She and a Cana-
dian broker named Rick Walchuk sought to have the brokers buy millions of shares using the accounts of retail customers. Unfortunately for Ms. Winsor and Mr. Walchuk, the person who was arranging the buying was secretly co-operating with the FBI.
Ms. Winsor received her sentence in an appearance on Wednesday, April 13, before Pennsylvania Judge Timothy Savage. Few details of her sentencing are available, as nearly every related document is sealed. The charges against her were conspiracy, wire fraud and securities fraud. Ms. Winsor previously pleaded guilty.
The guilty plea came after she and her co-accused, Mr. Walchuk, reached secretive deals with the government in 2014 to settle the charges. Just like the sentencing materials, all of the documents surrounding their guilty pleas were sealed. It is possible that both agreed to provide prosecutors with something in return for a favourable sentence recommendation, but whatever that something may have been, the details are not public.
For Ms. Winsor, the sentence does not mark the end of her difficulties with the justice system. Her next appearance before a judge will be in Alberta, where she awaits sentencing for a separate pump-and-dump. The Alberta Securities Commission claimed that she and another man, Joseph Bucci, fraudulently boosted an OTC Bulletin Board l isting call ed Coastal Pacific Mining Corp. in 2010. Ms. Winsor previously pleaded guilty to those charges. Her sentencing in that case was delayed until she resolved the U.S. matter.
Details of the U.S. charges are contained in an indictment prosecutors filed on Dec. 6, 2012, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The indictment identified Ms. Winsor, 67, as a Canadian who had also used the names Caroline Meyer and Caroline Danforth. It identified Mr. Walchuk, 58, as a Canadian who served as the president of Viosolar. Prosecutors cited the pair for the manipulations of Viosolar and FACT, claiming that they tried to bribe brokers to buy the companies with client accounts.
The scheme came about in July, 2008, when Ms. Winsor was introduced to a person who claimed to represent a group of corrupt brokers. The person, only identified as “CW” (for co-operating witness), said he could have the brokers buy and hold shares in any company. In return, Ms. Winsor and Mr. Walchuk would have to pay a 20-per-cent fee. Unfortunately for Ms. Winsor and Mr. Walchuk, the person was secretly co-operating with gov-
ernment agents as part of a sting (one that the FBI has carried out many times).
The CW then set up a test transaction in which he purportedly had brokers buy $5,000 worth of stock. In reality, the FBI used undercover accounts to buy the shares. Ms. Winsor then wired $2,000 to pay for the test transaction. There were no further buys, and it appears that the CW stopped all communications with Ms. Winsor and Mr. Walchuk after the test transaction.
When prosecutors initially filed the case in 2012, Ms. Winsor and Mr. Walchuk were not in the U.S. or even in North America. Ms. Winsor had been in Spain, where she was trying to obtain Spanish identification, according to prosecutors. Police there arrested her on the U.S. warrant in May, 2014. She did not contest her extradition, and appeared before a U.S. judge on July 2, 2014. She served about a year in jail before she pleaded guilty and was allowed to live under house arrest.
U.S. authorities located Mr. Walchuk around the same time as Ms. Winsor. He had been in Greece, where he was living on the outskirts of Athens. He also appeared before a U.S. judge relatively quickly. On Nov. 10, 2015, he received a sentence of time served, which amounted to 18 months.