Judge sends Burnaby fraudster back to jail – for 1 day

Convicted Burnaby fraudster Arthur Tat Yue Wong was led out of a Vancouver courtroom in handcuffs Friday morning to serve a single day in jail before 12 months of probation.

Wong, 56, was convicted in March of defrauding Phoenix Media Direct Inc., a local large-format print company, of $147 in 2011 when he was in charge of the company’s books.

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He was originally alleged to have stolen about $200,000, and one of the co-founders of the company, Steve Carter, testified Wong had left the business on the brink of collapse, forcing the owners to sell at a “fire-sale price” in July 2012.

Breach of trust

In the end, however, B.C. Provincial Court Judge Nancy Phillips ruled the only crime that had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt was an unauthorized $147 payment made on the company credit card on May 22, 2011 to Dance Power Enterprises, a dance competition company.

The maximum sentence for fraud under $5,000 is two years in jail.

Crown prosecutor Kevin Marks called for a one-day jail sentence to be followed by 12 months’ probation.

He noted the deliberate nature of Wong’s crime and his of breach of trust.

Marks said Wong didn’t have a criminal record at the time he defrauded Phoenix but noted he was convicted of fraud and false pretences in 2016 for offences committed between May 2007 and November 2009 – shortly before he took over Phoenix’s books in 2010.

Back then, Wong was the financial controller at Unique Accommodations in North Vancouver, and he was found guilty of defrauding that company of $400,000 as well as lying to banks to get a mortgage and a line of credit.

He was sentenced to 30 months in jail but was released early. His parole on that conviction ended in January of this year.  

Marks said the earlier crimes could be considered important for determining Wong’s character.

‘Humble life’

Defence lawyer Gloria Ng recommended a suspended sentence and six months’ probation.

She said Wong, who lives with his wife, two 20-something daughters and his elderly mother, had no problems in jail or on parole and has been gainfully employed since getting out of prison – first as a golf course manager and then as a driver.

Letters of support from his brother and sister said Wong is a changed man, working to leave his past behind and more content to live a “humble life.”

Ng pointed out that, while this conviction comes after the Unique Accommodations conviction, the offences all date from before his jail sentence.

“It’s important to keep in mind that everything is still from that period of his life,” Ng said.

She also pointed to the small amount of money Wong was convicted of stealing from Phoenix.

Phillips acknowledged the dollar amount was small but said the breach of trust was “significant.”

She also agreed with Marks that Wong’s previous conviction spoke to his character.

“Combined with the need to protect the community, I have come to the conclusion that a suspended sentence would not be an appropriate sentence, that the record does need to reflect that one day in custody.”

Phillips also said the longer, 12-month probation period would ensure “certain orders are in place to constrain Mr. Wong and continue to make sure that he is engaging lawfully in the community.”

Among his parole conditions, Wong will have to make present and future employers aware of his conviction; he will not be allowed to possess any identification documents other than in his name; and he will have to pay back the $147 he stole.

He has also been ordered to provide a DNA sample for the national data bank.

‘Hollow victory’

Carter, who was in the courtroom with two other former employers of Wong, said he enjoyed watching his former financial controller being led away in handcuffs but called it a “hollow victory” after all he and his wife, a former partner in Phoenix, have been through.

“It traumatized me when it happened back in 2011, 2012, and since the judgment it’s all come back – and it’s come back worse.”

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