A Canmore accountant who operated his business in a "profoundly fraudulent way," defrauding investors of more than $2 million, should spend nine years in prison, the Crown prosecutor has argued.
James Russell Neilson, who was charged in 2015, was found guilty last month of fraud and money laundering stemming from illegal activity involving his business Abaca Solutions between 2009 and 2014.
Prosecutor Steven Johnston asked Justice Kristine Eidsvik to impose a nine-year sentence, while defence lawyer Meryl Friedland proposed a three-year prison term.
"There's very little evidence of empathy here," said Johnston in his sentencing submissions on Thursday. "Fraud is not an offence that happens in the spur of the moment. Frauds like this are planned, they are schemes."
'He stopped because he got caught'
Those who invested in Neilson's Canmore-based company included his family, friends, associates and former clients, who were told workers in the Philippines would be used for services in order to save money.
Neilson's business plan involved Abaca providing outsourced accounting services to accounting firms.
He told his investors they'd be paid through dividends but little, if any, were paid out.
Some investors lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Victim impact statements were filed with the court but were not read aloud.
Johnston pointed out Neilson's actions were not "crimes of passion."
"This was a crime that was calculated; every time Mr. Neilson typed an email, prepared a false statement, Mr Neilson had a choice."
"He stopped because he got caught."
'I am not the same man'
Neilson was given the chance to speak. He apologized to his victims, his wife and his children.
"I am not the same man I was in 2014," he said. "At that time, I was too proud to admit defeat or seek assistance from others."
He said he was blinded by a drive to salvage the company he founded, and did so with a disregard for others.
Neilson said he's a "changed man" after finding religion. He said he won't make the same mistakes again.
"I do not know what the future holds. I do know, however, I wish to use my talents to make positive contributions to my community and family."
The judge is set to give her decision next month.