When Patrick Stephen's friend asked for money to help pay for cancer treatment, he didn't think twice.
Stephen had just suffered a brain aneurysm, lost a sister to cancer and his nephew died, but every time Douglas Archie Clark, whom he'd known since 1963, asked him for cash he reached into his wallet.
"I felt for this guy, so I gave him the money," Stephen said. "I always trusted him."
The loans continued to pile up and soon Stephen and his wife Linda were out $209,000.
Because of Clark's greed - he has admitted to defrauding friends and family of more than $500,000 - the Stephens are living out their golden years on a day-to-day basis.
"That was everything. That was our total retirement nest egg," Stephen said. "Everything is gone."
Clark, 65, pleaded guilty in November to nine fraud charges. On the second day of his B.C. Provincial Court trial in Port Coquitlam on Wednesday he entered pleas to two more.
He initially faced 22 fraud charges dating back to the late 1980s and one charge of impersonating a peace officer. The remaining charges were stayed.
According to testimony heard in court, Clark spent years telling his wife and two sons he was an undercover naval officer undergoing experimental cancer treatments he had to pay for in cash.
He hit up family and friends for money - including his own son and an 88-year-old woman. It was alleged that he had defrauded 40 to 50 people of $2 million.
Prosecutor Gordon Comer called Clark's actions "sociopathic," calculated, cunning and greedy.
"It was ruthless. He never let up until they were bled dry," Comer said.
Clark addressed his victims in court, saying he regretted his actions.
"I am extremely sorry and I apologize for the pain I've caused," he said.
Judge David St. Pierre said in his decision yesterday that those who gave money to Clark were some of the most laudable members of society.
"I think these people were just empathetic, the best citizens of the community and unfortunately their trust in the goodness of people has been shattered," St. Pierre said.
Clark was sentenced to three years in prison. He was given double credit for the six months he has already spent in custody, leaving another two years of prison time. Clark was also ordered to pay restitution to the tune of about $532,000.
Chris (Chuck) Gale, Clark's friend of about 30 years, lost $22,000.
"I have no expectation of getting that back," Gale said outside court. "The trust and the relationship that I thought I had with this man was destroyed . . . He destroyed a lot of people and it broke my heart. That was the worst part."
Linda Stephen is concerned that Clark will be released from prison and continue to defraud people.
"This is his livelihood. Everyone's at risk," she said.
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