Justice Robert Maranger said it was the "selfish greed" of Jacques Scribnock that resulted in him concocting an elaborate scheme of "shell companies" under the names Magna Securities and Stone Securities to defraud close friends — even family members — of their life savings.
The frauds took place over a four-year period, starting in 2008.
Richard Meehan was one of more than a dozen former clients of Scribnock, who came to court for the sentencing.
Meehan was Scribnock's personal trainer and then became a friend and client.
"The hardest thing was not just the money but the betrayal after knowing this person, this fraudster, for over 15 years. That's what hurts the most," Meehan said.
Scribnock used money to maintain lavish lifestyle
The judge said Scribnock used money to maintain a lavish lifestyle for himself, his wife and children, including buying a $1.5-million penthouse condominium in Mississauga.
Scribnock was arrested in 2013, about six months after Ottawa police started receiving complaints from investors, and launched an investigation.
Many of the investors had been close personal friends of Scribnock, who had also referred their friends and family members to him.
Susan Brownrigg says she, her elderly parents, as well as several siblings invested their money with Scribnock and lost it all.
"The man is a snake in a suit, a predator. He stole the future of so many people. Our family has been damaged irreparably," Brownrigg said, outside court.
Her sister-in-law Linda Brownrigg said the fraud Scribnock committed against their elderly parents was especially damaging.
"The guy took those cheques and put them in his own private bank account. He forged her signature on documents. How do you bounce back when you are 83, 84 [years old]? You know you are frail, you believe in people, you trust people and he charmed people, he really did, including us by the way," Linda Brownrigg said.
Scribnock even defrauded his cousin, Diane McMartin. Her advice to other investors is not use a friend or family member as a financial planner.
"But I would encourage people to go with investors that are in a good, big company … not a small person who is trying to make it for himself.
The judge also ordered Scribnock to pay restitution to the victims, although many of them believe they'll never get their money back.
Scribnock was given 15 months credit for time served in pre-trial custody, which means he will have to serve another five years and seven months before becoming eligible for full parole.