Monday, October 12, 2009

PAROLE JUSTICE AND THE BALLAD OF MICHAEL RITTER: "I GET OUT WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS."



Ritter





Ritter (L), stacks of cash, and Carter (R)



Michael Peter Ritter is a white collar criminal in his early fifties from Edmonton. He is a thief, a fraudster, and money launderer. Just how bad a guy he is can be gleaned from reading these pieces: http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/insight/story.html?id=8269fb3e-ca94-4f14-844f-fade85722942
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-man-who-could-make-money-disappear/article1319486/

Ritter was a wealth manager when the gendarmes finally caught on to him. Like many in the wealth management game he was intelligent, cool, and glib. As people were to discover he was also a nonpareil liar. He lied about having a law degree. He lied about finishing his studies at the London School of Economics. He lied about being admitted to Gray’s Inn for English barristers. He lied about being an intern in the House of Lords Legal division. He lied about attending the University of Geneva and he lied about having been an advisor to the Swiss Bankers Association. And all of that happened years before he got into his legal quagmire at which time he began to tell more lies.

Those early lies about his experience and education helped him wangle a job in the hapless Don Getty Progressive Conservative government in 1988. He conned Getty’s motley crew into making him chief parliamentary counsel to the speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly – one of the qualifications for which was that the applicant had to be a lawyer. The speaker in those days was the very pious appearing – and, as it turned out, fabulously naïve - Anglican man of the cloth by the name of David Carter, now happily retired and living somewhere in the Cypress Hills.

The job description for Ritter’s governmental post included advising the Alberta government on parliamentary procedure, constitutionality of legislation, conflicts of interest, and alleged improprieties of members. During his tenure, he took the position that the government and the speaker could do anything they wanted to do – even when it came to roughing up reporters. The Tories loved him. He was one of their true blue enforcers. He could do no wrong. In 1993 with his patron Carter’s retirement from government and politics Ritter followed suit, and soon began his sordid career as a wealth manager.
Law enforcement officials began looking into his affairs in the summer of 2002 and in October of 2003 he was indicted on several fraud related charges in Los Angeles that could have landed him in jail for life. He spent the next four years trying to fight off his tormenters by using every legal and illegal trick in the book – including arranging for a false passport under an erroneous name. Finally, on October 27, 2006 in an Edmonton courtroom he pleaded guilty to stealing 10.5 million bucks from one client, and of engaging in a Ponzi scheme that bilked 6500 investors out of 270 million dollars. He chose to cop out in Canada to avoid further prosecution in the U.S. where, had he been extradited and convicted there, he knew he would be spend a hell of a lot more jail time than in Canada. Once Canada got the guilty plea, the Americans folded their tent.

Much of the dough he made off with was the life savings of little people of modest means. He blew the money on lawyers, his pals, rich kids’ toys - like two private planes and a sky box for Edmonton Oilers games - and more of the good life. In other words he spent the money on himself. For a brief accounting of some of his expenditures and tastes read:
http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/insight/story.html?id=8269fb3e-ca94-4f14-844f-fade85722942

Surprisingly, some of his old government pals even tried to help him out by submitting character references to the court in an effort to get the Judge to go easy on him. Among them were Tory ex-minister Jim Horsman, ex-speaker Carter, and, oddly enough, even two former NDP leaders, Ray Martin and Pam Barrett. The judge that heard the case took the joint advice of the prosecutor and defence counsel, and sent the charlatan to the big house for ten years. So far so good.

However, about four months ago, the National Parole Board – now stacked with Tory and Conservative friends of Stephen – paroled Ritter. He had served a meager 18 months in a minimum-security prison for his dastardly deeds. Not only that, even though at his sentencing Ritter agreed to help track down the money he had filched so as there would be some restitution to his victims, not a dime has been forthcoming. Despite all of the aggravating circumstances the Board followed its policy of releasing non-violent offenders who have served only one-sixth of their time. After 18 months of jail time Ritter is free - free to wheel his Jaguar around town and live in baronial splendour in expensive three storey digs replete with a home theatre and cherry wood humidor, and plan his next move.

The case raises many issues and concerns. To say that the case is a sad reflection on the Canadian parole system under the Harper government is an understatement. The parole board gave him kid glove treatment for serious crimes that deserved real and prolonged punishment. Also, following in the tradition of Alan Eagleson, Conrad Black, David Radler and most recently Peter Pocklington, the prosecutions emerged not in Canada but in the United States once again for the reason that Canada lacks the resources to go after white collar criminals.

Then there is the curious case of David Carter. In most circles Carter was and is a well-respected Anglican clergyman. However as a speaker, his tenure was not applauded by the opposition. Too often he appeared to be pedantic, condescending and unduly critical of the opposition’s attempts at keeping the government honest. The fact that he worked with Ritter for so long without suspecting his mendacity is astonishing; that he would submit a character reference for the scoundrel after he more than others were lied to and misled by Ritter is even more strange.
But that’s not all. In 2001 Carter had his picture taken together with Ritter and a kitchen counter full of $20 bills. The money is thought to be all or part of $400,000 fraudulently scooped by one of Ritter’s clients and then given to Ritter for deposit into a Swiss bank account. Carter acknowledges that he helped Ritter take the money to Switzerland but was not suspicious about the trip because, “Wasn’t my business.” When he was asked what his reaction would be if he knew that the goal of the Swiss deposit was to evade taxes, the ordained Anglican priest said, “Hey, . . . that’s been going on for decades.”

That Carter exercised poor judgment in his dealings with Ritter is obvious. His blithe and reckless attitude towards what Ritter was doing with the money is either fabulously naïve, profoundly stupid, staggeringly arrogant, or stunningly and abominably amoral. Perhaps it is all of those things.

10 comments:

SIMONE SANOUBANE said...

Dear Mr. Raymaker:

Thank you for your encouragement. I have been following you blog site for quiet some times. I am sincerely impressed and feeling good to know that we have some one like you to look for the Canadians, and our country.

I am one of your fan, and quite surprised to see your couple fans by the name Simon. Thank God it's different spelling, lol. I felt offended to Simon's some rough words in the comments recently wrote in you blog. If some one like you are willing to share your important time and valuable opinions to make Canada a better place, anyone should think twice before they put any unkind words in your blog.


Please note my comments below were entered late to complete my thoughts on Mr. Prince's blog site last night, after your comments were posted. Please read the rest of my comments and I am looking forward to receive your response. I want to learn from you, and will conmtinue to follow your blog.

Here is last part of my comments I posted in Mr. Prince blog last night:


I am grad some one like you and Mr. Raymaker bring up the issues relating the current goverment agenda in: Controling "crimes".

I agree, that the goverment tends not to focus hard enough on serious,white collar crimes,ie. the goverment & corporate corruptions;the real culplits of today's national/global economic crisis.

The goverment tends to focus havily on non-political crimes such as, crimes related to young people, the identity theaf and so on. I do not mean that we should ignor these crimes, but expending bigger jail is not going to solve the problem.

Dealing with the root cause is going to solve the problem. Same as white collar crimes, we the people, and the goverment must deal with these crimes at the root cause levels, NOW.

THE WHITE COLLAR CRIME IS THOUSANDS YEAR OLD PROBLEM. It causes repetitive economic crisis forever. It has a life cycle about every 1 or few decades, for economic bubbles to burst,& new one begins. We do not want to see it happen again. Although, we may be lucky to see it happen again if we live long enough. Or,the crisis may become worse over the next 5 to 10 years, if the National deficit is growing the way Mr. Flaherty constantly announced.

One thing is for sure, it will repetedly happen sooner/later, if we don't do the right thing, to prevent it right now.

It has been happening to me and my family. I know how it feels like, when people loss their homes, assets, and all aspects of their lives are affected, and destroyed.

I painfully watch people lost their lives, by various form of suffering deaths: From mentally and physically illnesses, pain & humiliation, broken home/family members, committing suicide, or killing thier family and loves, then killing themselves, mostly by men.

I wish, I'd save theme,& tell them, there is hope. We must work together.

Will we let these evil capitailists,the main creators of artificial financial/economic crisis, put the future of our children, our country, our wolrd in crisis?

I will not let these crisis happen again. I will refuse to live with them. I will not leave them. I commit myself in this life time to work against them.

To be continued

SIMONE SANOUBANE said...

Do not prejudge that, all rich and powerful people are infavor of the evil capitalists. The real evils are only few among them, who repetedly committed white collar crimes. They are the ones that, we must control & bring them to justice.

It is hard work, and that is only the first step to control economic crisis. It will send the first real shock wave that, hits home.

It will make the crooks' friends in high places come to terms with: The real purposes in life, the real reasons God put them in this world,& the real reason we, the 99% non-corrupted people voted for them & put them in the office, to faithfully govern our country & its people.

THE TIME HAS COME GENTLEMAN, WE MUST DEAL WITH THE WHITE COLLAR CRIMS. I say the white collar crimes, to filter this simple debate, what I truely, reffered to is what I breifly attampted to described above.

I am setting up an internate campaign to END ARTIFICAIL FINANCIAL & ECONOMIC CRISIS. It will eventually ends proverty, that is usually affect most vulnerable people: The chilren, woman, single parent, elderly, the sick, the handicaps, the minority, the second class/marginal people in the society....& so on.

NO SINGLE CANADIAN HAS TO BE POOR AS THE RESULT OF CAPITALISTS' GREEDS.

We recognize that, God did not equally create people to acheive same level of sucess; so that, each of us was designed to hold a different role in the society. However, we must do our best to help the poor as the results of underacheives, none of their own false.

I need your supports, your strong vioce, to lead the people to sucess in this project. Our country is recognized as one of the world leaders, therefore, we will be expected to lead the world.

Thanks for your times to read my comments. I invite you, your family & friends; Please jion:

1- My Face Book (FB) Internet Campaign Discussion Baord: MOVING CANADA TO STABLE ECONOMY, AND PREVENT FUTURE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN. I appologize for any inconvinience. My "Web sites and I" are currently underconstructions. Also, please join me at:

2- Mr. Michael Moore Face Book Discussion Board under heading: Any Ideas on how to fight against capitalism or at least make it fair for everyone?

3- ttp://simonesanoubanebloggingpractice.blogspot.com/?zx=461d022093c8afee my blog site

4- http://simonesanoubane.webs.com/ my web site for World Peace Internet Campaign

5- http://www.poornomore.ca/ An establishment I support & links to my FB

Best regards;

Simone Sanoubane

John Prince said...

Great post Darryl!
Having a two-tiered justice system of 'justice for the rich and the law for the poor' that rewards white-collar criminals, while throwing the book at everyone else (which is what Harper and his boys are trying to do) does not bode well, I suggest, with most Canadians.

Harper and his conservative hordes will find that out for themselves, and at their expense, come the next election, I don't care what their 'bought' mainstream media and the polls say.

Darryl Raymaker said...

Simone - Fight the good fight for the little people. And fight for an effective enforcement atainst white collar crime in Canada. And also fight for a fair distribution of income amongst Canadians.

Recessions will be with us regardless as to how well we prosecute white collar criminals. They are part of the business cycle - when demand slows down and their remains a great supply of goods. The supply has to dwindle in order that it equates to the diminished demand.

Good Luck in your career as a writer and social critic.

And John - Thanks Buddy. You're living in God's country!

Louis said...

Hi Darryl,

I'm a former employee of Michael Ritter's. I had considerable affection and respect for him, and now I feel betrayed and angry. There's no doubt he's a bad dude.

But your attempt to spin this as a partisan issue doesn't fly. He had friends among all parties (as you note, Martin and Barrett were among them, and while I worked for him I saw at least one provincial Liberal politician visit him socially). Hearing him speak in private, I'd peg his political sympathies as Liberal, though I don't believe he belonged to any party. He (along with Carter) was a major mover behind the unsuccessful move to prevent Stockwell Day from accessing the MLA risk management fund to defend himself against Lorne Goddard's defamation lawsuit. Opposition politicians were certainly fond of him then!

Ritter's a bad guy, but not all bad guys are partisan Tories, and he got out not because the parole board is stacked with Tories but because getting out after a sixth of the sentence is standard procedure for non-violent offenders.

Louis

P.S. I'm not a Conservative either, and have never voted for the provincial P.C.s, the federal Conservatives, and Reform Party, or the Canadian Alliance (though I did vote for the federal P.C.s in 2000, when I saw them as a more honest centre-left option than the Liberals). These days I usually vote Green, though I'm not a member. So this isn't me defending the Conservatives, I just think you're tarring them unfairly here.

P.P.S. I'm posting under a pseudonym. If you'd like, post your e-mail address here and I'll contact you with my real name and details of my association with Ritter.

Darryl Raymaker said...

Thanks for that Louis. I liked your comments even though I don't agree with them.

My Email address is: darrylraymaker@hotmail.com

A couple of points. Given the gargantuan nature of his lies, I'm appalled that his pals in government when he was working there did not figure him out. In fact, there were suspicious people around - some of the press - that thought something was wrong.

Secondly, the parole board - because of the massiveness of his lies going back almost 20 years should have right concluded that he was a pathological liar. He also misled the Crown respecting restitution and in fact made no restitution. These were strong grounds for keeping him locked up for a longer time.

As to the partisan nature of the Board, it is partisan, and by now its Harper's Board. It may be a stretch to say it was Ritter's pals who got him out - but not much of a stretch. I'm a believer in the old adage, "If if walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then it must be a duck." The board had every reason to keep him in - remember those rules of release are discretionary - and they didn't. The optics are deplorable and suspicious.

I know about Carter's role in the Stockwell Day suit and I was impressed with that. But the naivity to have been so long misled by Ritter and having allowed himself to be portrayed in such astonishing and embarrassing circumstances - with the cash and all, and his rather flip responses to why he allowed himself to travel to Switzerland with the dough and what he thought of tax evasion, is mind-boggling.

Whatever role Ritter had in the Day matter in opposing the payment of Day's costs, I applaud. I mean, even crooks do the right thing every once in a while. However, it does not get him off the hook on the offenses that got him into jail. Also, my guess is that Ritter, because of who he is, was no Social Conservative, and so he would have quite naturally been opposed to Day's actions respecting the Goddard suit. Good for him. But it is not nearly enough to give him a pass to get out of the slammer after only 18 months. -Not after all he had done.

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