A con man who bilked a string of central Alberta companies out of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and supplies has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
Nathan Weir, 34, pleaded guilty in Red Deer provincial court Aug. 24 to about a dozen fraud and stolen property charges as well impaired driving and nine counts of failing to appear.
Crown prosecutor Maurice Collard described Weir as a professional con artist who scammed small businesses in several Central Alberta communities including Red Deer, Rimbey, Ponoka and Sundre between December 2008 and July 2010. Some were out thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, including one that was bilked out of nearly $11,000 worth of material.
Collard called for a three-year sentence, noting that Weir had been sentenced to two years in 2004 for a smaller number of the same kinds of frauds.
“He can’t stop stealing from Central Alberta,” he said.
The court heard Weir typically took advantage of companies by using false invoices and assumed identities to purchase expensive equipment, such as oilfield valves and industrial cleaning equipment.
Companies often had no idea they had been cheated until they went to collect their cash and discovered the companies that supposedly bought the equipment had no record of the purchases or the supposed employee who did the buying.
In other fraudulent deals, Weir forged a relative’s name on a loan to buy a truck. It only came to light when he began missing payments. He also forged ownership documents to sell a trailer.
The impaired driving charged was laid when a “highly agitated” Weir was arrested after he ran into a horse trailer being pulled by another vehicle near Eckville in April 2009. A small amount of cocaine and a crack pipe was found inside his vehicle.
Defence lawyer Lorne Goddard said at the time of the offences Weir was struggling with a cocaine addiction. Goddard suggested a two-year sentence.
After charges were laid, Weir took bad advice and fled to British Columbia where he found a job managing a company’s office in Merritt, said his lawyer. He did that for 18 months before turning himself into police there earlier this year after RCMP from Alberta reached him on his cellphone.
Goddard said after leaving Alberta, the married father-of-three turned his life around.
Judge Gordon Deck gave Weir credit for time served in jail leaving him with 27 months left to serve
By Paul Cowley, Red Deer Advocate