International company bilked of $24m in Ontario benefit fraud scheme

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An Ontario man was sentenced to five years in jail last week over his role in one of the biggest benefit frauds in Canadian history.

Leo Joseph Caron was one of three men charged for defrauding their former employer, Swedish mining supply company Atlas Copco, of more than $23 million.

Caron pleaded guilty to fraud and theft of more than $5000. He was also ordered to pay back almost $24 million, although he is unlikely to ever be in the position to do so.

According to CBC reports, Justice John Keast called the "magnitude of greed astounding" when sentencing Caron to five years in prison, minus a credit for six months he has already served.

Caron, who was the human resources director at Atlas Copco in Sudbury, allegedly worked with another Atlas employee, as well as Paul Caron (no relation) who was a sub-contractor for Manulife Financial. The three would falsify benefit claims, clearing up to $9.7 milllion a year by pocketing the difference. The overbilling happened over a space of four years, from 2004, and added up to $22 million. Leo Caron also advanced $1.5 million to himself with no intention of repaying the funds.

They were caught when others at the company raised concerns about the cost of the employee benefit program in Sudbury. Caron was fired in 2007.

The court heard Caron is in the process of declaring bankruptcy. All his assets, including two homes, have been seized.

It was unclear exactly how much of the stolen money went to Caron.

"We have been able to trace about $4 million that went to him, or through him, or to his ex-wife, or to a company that he incorporated for that purpose," crown attorney Philip Zylberberg said. "We don't know whether that's all, or whether more made its way to him."

The Crown said Caron and the two other men would receive invoices from Manulife and then falsify forms, getting Atlas Copco to pay more than required. Leo Caron and the accused pocketed the difference, court was told.

Atlas Copco overpaid benefits by $5 million in 2004, $5.6 million in 2005, $9.7 million in 2006 and $2.7 million in 2007, as the scheme wound down.

The Crown said it was the biggest ever fraud case in the Sudbury area and one of the biggest in Ontario in recent memory and this deserved a lengthy jail term.

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  • An Expat on 2013-04-18 1:32:21 PM

    "Caron pleaded guilty to fraud and theft of more than $5000. He was also ordered to pay back almost $24 million, although he is unlikely to ever be in the position to do so."

    He and his co-conspirators should be required to work in the company cafeteria as slop cooks, returning to prison nightly for the balance of their pathetic lives to ensure they never enjoy the fruits of their crimes.

  • Ex Employee on 2014-08-31 6:00:35 PM

    That little weasel and the rest of his gang deserve an ass load more than 5 years!

  • Loyal service. on 2016-03-16 2:16:07 AM

    After 28 years of service, in 1992 I received a severance package via Leo Caron with difficult negotiations. From that process I then concluded that Leo Caron already had his fingers in the till. The only fair sentence for Leo Caron is a lifetime sentence. May he rot in jail.

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