Crown seeking jail time for participant in welfare fraud
The Crown is recommending jail time for the latest person to be sentenced in connection with a Surrey-based welfare-fraud ring that has cost the government hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Ryan Jarrett Fairhurst pleaded guilty in December to five counts of fraud. A sentencing hearing took place in B.C. provincial court in Surrey Thursday. He is expected to be sentenced Friday.
In December 2011, Fairhurst became involved with the fraud ring that was being run out of a house in Whalley. The scheme involved taking welfare cheques — particularly crisis welfare cheques issued in emergencies — and altering the amounts and recipients, then using frontmen to cash them. The welfare recipient, the forger and the frontman would then split the money.
The first three cheques Fairhurst cashed were his own. On Dec.22, 2011,Fair hurst went to the Surrey welfare office and picked up a rent cheque for $225.The amount was altered to $925 and Fairhurst cashed the cheque. On March 5, 2012, Fairhurst went to the same office for a $50 clothing benefit cheque, which was altered to be worth$ 850.Fair hurst cashed it. The same day, he called the welfare office and said he had been robbed. Fairhurst was issued a $20 crisis cheque for food, which was altered to $855 and cashed the next day.
After that, Fairhurst cashed eight cheques that were initially made out to other welfare recipients after the recipients and amounts had been changed.
On May 1, 2012, Fairhurst went to the welfare office and was issued a $20 crisis cheque for food. The amount was altered to $780 and Fairhurst cashed it.
Fairhurst cashed one more cheque with an altered payee and amount before he was caught trying to cash an altered Canada Pension Plan cheque at a Coast Capital Savings Credit Union. The teller became suspicious because the cheque was made out to Fairhurst, who was obviously not old enough to receive a pension, and called police.
According to Fairhurst, he was initially a willing participant in the scheme, however, after he cashed the first three cheques he was coerced into continuing with the frauds. Fairhurst told investigators that when he tried to extricate himself from the ring, he was assaulted and the tip of his right index finger was cut off to the first knuckle.
Fairhurst was also addicted to heroin and it is believed that he got drugs from the people in the house. Fairhurst used the money he was paid to support his addiction.
Crown prosecutor Shelley Hu lko said a sentence of between nine and 18 months would be appropriate, considering Fairhurst’s circumstances, plea and lack of criminal record.
Defence lawyer Dan Redekopp said a conditional sentence would allow Fairhurst to continue on the path to rehabilitation. firstname.lastname@example.org