The Nova Scotia financial manager behind an investment scam “paid a hard price for his greed,” a judge said as she ordered him to pay back about 200 investors he bilked out of $1.1 million.
Quintin Sponagle of Upper Vaughan, N.S., pleaded guilty to fraud in December.
The charge involved 201 people who invested more than $4 million through Jabez Financial Services Inc. — a Windsor, N.S., company registered in Panama. Sponagle has admitted he was responsible for $1.1 million that was not invested.
‘Live the good life’
He used that money to buy cars, recreational vehicles and property and for international travel, cash withdrawals and other personal expenses, Judge Anne Derrick said in a new decision.
Derrick said he used other people’s hard-earned money to “feather his own nest,” and ordered Sponagle to pay the victims $1.1 million in restitution.
“Mr. Sponagle betrayed his investors and whatever moral code he may have had, primarily so he could live the good life and enjoy material benefits that otherwise would presumably have been beyond his means,” said Derrick.
“The fact that no restitution has been made by Mr. Sponagle in the over 10 years since his fraud … means that these many victims have had their trust betrayed and have suffered harm, in some cases irreparable harm, to their future plans, to the security they were counting on for their retirements, and to their health, well-being and happiness.”
19 months in Panamanian prison
Derrick also accepted a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers to sentence Sponagle to a year’s probation and time already served in custody.
Sponagle spent 19 months in Panama’s La Joya Penitentiary — described by the judge in this case as “one of the world’s worst prisons.”
“He has paid a hard price for his greed,” she said of his time imprisoned in Panama.
Sponagle was brought back to Nova Scotia in November 2014 and released on bail a month later after posting a $45,000 surety.
Toll on victims
The judge said victim impact statements revealed Sponagle’s actions affected the investors emotionally, mentally and physically, and shook their trust in others.
Many victims were from Sponagle’s “immediate social group,” she said.
“I have no doubt that Mr. Sponagle was seen by his hapless investors as an upstanding fellow citizen who provided no reason for anyone to mistrust him,” the judge said. “Mr. Sponagle used the trust he had been accorded by vulnerable and naive victims for his personal benefit.”
‘In the nature of a Ponzi scheme’
In October 2011, the Nova Scotia Securities Commission found Sponagle and Trevor Hill engaged in unfair practices, solicited investments without being registered in Panama or Canada, and failed to file a prospectus before distributing securities.
The commission concluded that between April and September 2006, the pair traded securities after…