A Langley fraudster will spend three and a half years in jail for a $6 million fraud.
Matthew Brooks, once the owner of Aggressive Roadbuilders, was sentenced Tuesday morning in Surrey Provincial Court.
“Mitigating circumstances are limited,” noted Judge Danny Sudeyko as he gave the reasons for his sentence.
Brooks’ firm was a major paving company with up to 60 employees, working on road projects throughout the Lower Mainland during the early and mid-2000s.
But between January 2007 and June 2008, the company submitted falsified paperwork to Scotiabank to receive an inflated line of credit.
The company borrowed up to $7 million based on inflated accounts receivable documents. Brooks signed off on documents showing that his company was owed millions for already-completed projects from various municipalities.
In truth, their assets were much lower than claimed. At one point, Sudeyko noted that Aggressive claimed accounts receivable of $21 million, when the real number was $3.4 million.
The scheme unravelled in the spring of 2008 when Scotiabank began to raise questions and called in auditors. The bank began bankruptcy proceedings and Aggressive collapsed. Charges were laid in 2014.
A little over $6 million vanished. It had been used to pay off a similar line of credit with Aggressive’s previous bank, RBC. Before that, the money had apparently gone into “other investments.”
“Those investments, it would appear, were highly unsuccessful,” Sudeyko said.
Brooks’ defense lawyer Stephanie Head had asked for a sentence of three years or less, arguing that her client was a candidate for a conditional sentence order, which is a form of house arrest.
Sudeyko rejected that argument based on the scale, complexity, and duration of the fraud.
“This was not an impulsive or a short-term decision,” Sudeyko said of the nearly year and a half long fraud.
He also rejected arguments centering around Brooks’ safety and his family.
In 2015, Brooks’ 20-year-old son Hudson was killed in a police shooting. An Independent Investigation Office report was sent to the Crown to consider whether charges are warranted against any officers involved.
In his statement to the judge during his sentencing hearing earlier in October, Brooks spoke about his son’s death at some length.
Another son, Riley, suffers from a cognitive impairment and substance abuse. Head had argued that Brooks was key to helping his son.
The defense also mentioned threats several times, including a 2011 drive-by shooting at Brooks’ home in rural Langley, and a 2014 incident in which his tires were shot out. Brooks claimed threats and fear were keeping him from visiting his two daughters with his second wife, both born after the fraud took place.
But the judge rejected most of those arguments.
“It is not a relationship of dependence,” he said of Brooks’ son Riley, who lives with his mother.
He dismissed as unclear the “alleged fear and threats,” noting there was no evidence in front of him that they were linked to the fraud in any way.
But Brooks did plead guilty, and this was his first offense, Sudeyko noted.
In recent years, Brooks has lived in a trailer or with friends. He arrived in court with a cloth Wal-Mart shopping bag of possessions.
He was led away by the court sheriff after sentence was passed.
The trial of Brooks’ co-accused, the controller-bookkeeper of Aggressive, Kirk Roberts, is currently being rescheduled. It was to have begun Nov. 20 in New Westminster.
Brooks could be called as a witness at that trial.
During Brooks’ sentencing hearing, he blurted out that Roberts knew where the money went.
“Ask where the missing money is, and who his business partners are!” Brooks said.