The former Vold Jones Vold stockyard foreman charged with fraud and theft of cattle in a sophisticated swindle operation has avoided jail time.
Robert Dempsey Jackson, 53, of Ponoka, entered guilty pleas to seven counts of uttering forged documents stemming from a 2007 investigation which alleged that Jackson had stolen cattle between 2000 and 2007 while an employee of the auction mart.
Jackson was to stand trial in Wetaskiwin Court of Queen’s Bench Sept. 14 to 25 but instead entered a guilty plea on an agreed statement of facts negotiated between the Crown and his lawyer, Harold Brubaker.
The counsels presented Mr. Justice Burrows with an agreement that Jackson would plead guilty to seven counts of uttering forged documents between 2001 and 2007 and a rationalization that he stole only $30,000 — not the nearly $250,000 originally suspected. They also proposed a 16-month sentence, comprising eight months of house arrest during which time Jackson would be allowed to leave his residence to attend work, worship and medical appointments. The other eight months would be served under a nightly curfew. He must serve 70 hours of community service and make restitution of $30,000.
Burrows said the severity of the “sophisticated scheme” should warrant jail time of more than two years but as Brubaker explained the series of events, the judge was convinced the Crown would have a difficult time proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
• Brubaker explained Jackson owned cattle with a relative and some of those cattle were periodically added to auction manifests.
• Jackson was a purchasing agent for a packinghouse in Quebec and when some cattle held at VJV were discovered to be pregnant, Jackson would switch them with his own cattle of equal weight and value. When the cow gave birth he would then move the cow-calf pair through the auction mart.
• Acting as an agent for producers, Jackson would find them sources of hay and in turn they would pay him in cattle.
• There were instances when Jackson diverted cattle and sold them, but at a value less than $30,000 worth.
Jackson also admitted to forging manifests in his son’s name because his son has treaty status and Jackson believed he could benefit from tax exemptions enjoyed by First Nations people.