LETHBRIDGE: 62-year old Jerry Russell Johnson has caught a break that will see him get out of prison almost seven years early.
In April of 2010 Johnson was sentenced to 10-years in prison for Fraud over $5,000. Between October 2004 and April 2006 he defrauded 64 local investors out of an estimated $2.7-million through a "Ponzi" scheme. To date he still owes his victims over $960,000.
Johnson has been granted Accelerated Parole. It's for a first time federal offender convicted of a non-violent crime and allows them early release if they're not considered a risk to commit a violent offence. The crime they were sent to prison for and their likelihood to re-offend in that area is not a factor.
He gets the Accelerated Parole despite the fact that the Federal government scrapped the law last year, which many considered a loop-hole for non-violent offenders serving considerable time. However, the B.C. Supreme Court rejected the decision and continue to allow those convicted prior to the change to apply for the option.
When Johnson was sentenced in Lethbridge court he asked to serve his sentence in B.C. and was granted the request.
As for the repayment to those Johnson defrauded, the parole board didn't provide much hope in a written decision obtained by Country 95 News, "Due to your lack of employment, you (Johnson) have made no amends to your victims through the restitution order. You owe over $960,000. According to a program report on file (February 2013), your lack of motivation and direction has been challenging for your CMT (Case Management Team). You reportedly often stated that you were in 'retirement mode' and did not need to work to support yourself. According to the more recent reports from your CMT, you claim that you plan to seek part time employment and rely on a government pension."
The board continued that while Johnson made numerous claims that he was ashamed of his actions, he has yet to even make a token payment or find employment. They continued by saying, "Your ability to be deceitful runs deep, and your risk related to greed and financial gain is clearly significant."
With those factors in mind, the board placed Johnson under some strict release conditions for the remaining seven years of his sentence. He must live in a halfway house, actively seek employment or pursue academic upgrading and he is not allowed to be in a position of responsibility either paid or unpaid for the management of finances or investments of any kind for another individual or group.
Should Johnson be caught violating those terms, he could be sent back to prison to serve out what's left of his sentence.