A Calgary fraudster is now considered a fugitive after he crossed the border into Montana on the day he was supposed to be sentenced, the prosecution told the judge Wednesday afternoon.
Ronald James Aitkens, 68, was convicted of two offences under the Alberta Securities Act in July 2020.
"Intelligence sources advised Mr. Aitkens entered into the U.S. on November 6th," prosecutor Yasifina Somji told Justice Lloyd Robertson on Wednesday.
Last Monday, Nov. 6, was the second sentencing date Aitkens missed and the day that warrants were issued for his arrest.
The matter was due back in court next week in hopes that Aitkens had been taken into custody and could then be sentenced, but it was brought forward on Wednesday after Somji was given information from intelligence sources.
Robertson asked Somji if she could provide "more specific" information on the Calgarian's whereabouts but she told the judge "that's about all I can advise."
The Crown did confirm Aitkens has not crossed back into Canada and said the warrant has now been expanded Canada-wide.
Aitkens was facing up to five years in prison — the prosecution argued he should face the maximum sentence for his offences. Defence lawyer Brian Beresh asked the judge to consider a two-year conditional sentence, meaning Aitkens would be able to serve his time at home.
He was initially set to be sentenced on Oct. 23 but Beresh told the court Aitkens had COVID and couldn't make it. The judge agreed to reschedule the matter.
Two weeks later, Aitkens again failed to show up. This time, Beresh told the judge that he "had no communications at all" with his client and did not know where he was.
At the time, both Crown and defence agreed that Robertson could deliver his sentencing decision and then issue warrants for the man's arrest, but the judge said he wanted the fraudster to appear before him in court.
A decade before the courts
This case has taken more than a decade to make its way through the courts. Aitkens was first charged in September 2013.
The delay was due to a failed charter application, Aitkens' health issues and changes in counsel.
Aitkens distributed and sold securities in a real estate investment company called Legacy Communities.
He raised more than $35 million from about 1400 investors, some of whom used their retirement savings, Robertson found in his conviction decision.
The Legacy project involved a parcel of real estate on Calgary's western boundary totalling about 503 acres (203 hectares). Investors were told that land would be purchased and developed for the project.
But Aitkens diverted more than $10 million of investors' money to private companies he owned.