George Brookins receives sentence of house arrest

Jim Day
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Trius bus. FILE PHOTO

A Charlottetown businessman has been sentenced to one-year house arrest after pleading guilty to fraud over $5,000.

P.E.I. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Taylor imposed a conditional sentence that confines Brookins to his home for 12 months. He is allowed to leave his home to work in his own travel tour business, attend medical appointments and for religious observances.

He will be placed on one-year probation following completion of the conditional sentence.

Taylor says he took into consideration 75-year-old Brookins' age, his guilty plea, a positive pre-sentence report, and the fact Brookins has no prior criminal record in reaching the sentence.

No restitution was ordered. A civil suit is expected to determine who owes whom money and just how much.

Brookins admitted to defrauding Trius Tours, a company he sold in 2005 to Mike Cassidy and Bill Keith.

Cassidy took civil action against Brookins in 2011 and Brookins counter sued. The suits remain active.

Both Brookins and Cassidy spoke with the media following the sentencing of Brookins.

Brookins agrees the fraud conviction tarnishes what had been a longstanding reputation as a person who performed with good character in business and in personal life.

"I was a good community person and you look at yourself in the mirror and you say 'am I a crook (and) what do people think of me,''' he said.

He says he accepts his sentence "without bitterness'' and plans to go forward.

Cassidy says he is a victim of fraud, noting Brookins pleaded guilty to the offence.

Brookins admits to defrauding the company of $203,728.90 between April 1, 2005 and Dec. 31, 2010. The agreed statement of facts read recently in court show Brookins used Trius Tours buses for his own financial gain without the consent or knowledge of Cassidy.

Cassidy contends the figure is $445,745.65.

However, he is suing Brookins for more than that amount, noting the police investigation unveiled "that there are tremendous dollars still owing.''

Brookins, meanwhile, says he is seeking about $550,000 in his civil suit.

Cassidy says he had a good relationship with Brookins until discovering well after the fact that fraudulent invoices were being sent to Cassidy's customers with money directed to Brookins' bank account.

Cassidy says he is fine with the sentence imposed Tuesday but adds he really was more interested in an apology from Brookins.

"As a victim, if you can hear 'I'm sorry', maybe that goes a lot further than any legal process - goes a lot further than any sentencing,'' he says.

"I've also learned that all we have in life is our name nad our reputation. And it's a short life and I now reflect today don't ever, if you can help it, tarnish your name and your reputation. It is very difficult to get it back no matter what you do.''

Brookins gave a conditional apology of sorts when he accepted the opportunity to speak in court just before learning his sentence.

"I feel very badly that it is a deal that has gone wrong between two people,'' he said.

"I feel very, very badly that it had to come to this.''

Outside the courthouse, Brookins elaborated on what he considers a business deal gone sour.

"I never thought it would ever come to this (fraud conviction) because there's a lot of money between the two of us,'' he says.

"We tried to resolve it and couldn't resolve it so therefore I had to evict him from the property because I was getting absolutely nothing in the way of currency. When that happened then it all sort of went south and whatever he and I were going to settle between the two of us went into the courts.''

After Brookins sold Trius Tours, a company he started in 1986, he was hired as general manager at a salary of $50,000 per year.

Keith soon sold his shares to Cassidy and in 2008, Adam Doiron joined Trius Tours as a managing partner.

By 2006, Brookins was no longer an employee of Trius Tours but was hired as an independent contractor through his company 100433 PEI Inc., which was the registered owner of land and a building on Garfield Street in Charlottetown that served as the maintenance building where Trius Tours Ltd. buses were maintained. The property also housed the offices of Trius Tours.

 

 

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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  • brigeovertroubledwaters
    April 24, 2014 - 08:09

    While I was not there to know what happened, I can't help but think there is a whole lot more to the story that is not being told . Having worked with Mr. Brookins, I know of his work ethic, his passion and commitment to the people he served in his business, he did indeed earn the reputation he had in the industry, I seen him provide free transportation to local groups, such as handicapped persons and seniors so that they could attend functions, gave to charities etc. I can't say that I know of the new owners doing that type of thing since they took over. If an apology is all the Cassidy required out of all of this, makes one wonder really, was it the money , was it the quilt of reneging on a "gentleman's" deal of sorts in the transfer of ownership of the business if that be it, or was it just his way of "wiggling the knife" to have Mr Brookins on his knees at his feet? Could have been an attempt to put Mr Brookins private tour business out of the competition, if there was any? by demoralizing him? Don't know, but I do know that for someone supposedly loosing over $450,000. an apology as a means of satisfaction, just doesn't seem justified if Brookins was actually guilty (Which he has admitted, I know and been found in the courts)or was it his only of recouping what was owed to him, after all, Mr. Brookins had to have Cassidy and his cohorts evicted from the property Trius was housed on (which Brookins owned) that makes me question Cassidys need for an apology? is he really the "Victim" in all of this? Don't know, but one thing that has been proven in all this Mr Cassidy sure shouldn't be at the helm of a business when he can't keep track of his assets and liabilities..yep, me thinks there is a whole lot more to this story. If someone allegedly took $450,000. from me, I think I'd want more than an apology unless I knew in some sorts that the money was in part , an outstanding balance owed....????

  • joe blow
    April 23, 2014 - 22:19

    To Stan Hope NEWS FLASH Mr Brookins pled guilty so put that in your arm chair,quarterback a thief is a thief!

  • Stan Hope
    April 23, 2014 - 19:52

    Before all you arm chair QB's throw in your two cents worth & words of worldly wisdom know this , there's a hell of lot more to this story than you in all your wisdom know about & hopefully it will come out in the civil suit. Till then like the song says "walk a mile in my shoes" .

  • hillard mackinnon
    April 23, 2014 - 15:01

    No winners here. Mike is out $450.000 unless he had bonding insurance. George has his reputation tarnished.

  • Terry Mckenna
    April 23, 2014 - 14:55

    It is a sad day for our legal system ! Supreme court judge Benjamin Taylor has just told the general public it is okay to steal and the more you steal the better .I wonder if someone stole Judge Taylors pay cheque for two or three years would he get house arrest ?

    • sammy
      April 24, 2014 - 04:37

      George sis just getting his share of the PNP money a different way :)

  • joe blow
    April 23, 2014 - 14:55

    He would have got a stiffer sentence for selling illegal cigarettes goes to show there is no punishment for white collar crime because judges and lawyers are at the top of the white collar crime food chain

  • enough already
    April 23, 2014 - 13:53

    Good for George . Crime does pay!