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Owner of TREADZ Auto Group sentenced to three years in prison, ordered to reimburse victims
Sean O'Brien, owner of TREADZ Auto Group, outside the Calgary Courts Centre on October 12, 2018
Published Friday, October 12, 2018 4:45PM MDT
After pleading guilty in September to defrauding dozens of people in a vehicle consignment scheme in Calgary, Sean O’Brien has been sentenced to three years in prison and a restitution order has been granted requiring that he compensate his victims.
O’Brien, the owner of TREADZ Auto Group, had his business shut down in 2014 after allegations surfaced stating the dealer had sold a number of vehicles on consignment and failed to compensate the previous owners of the vehicles.
A police investigation into the allegations totalling more than $2 million in losses against the dealership that operated at 6812 Fairmount Drive S.E. resulted in O’Brien’s arrest in 2016. He was charged with a total of 164 counts of fraud and theft.
On September 7, 2018, O’Brien pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud over $5,000.
As part of Justice Willie deWit’s ruling during Friday’s sentencing, O’Brien will be required to attempt to make payments to his victims. The exact value of the restitutions has not been confirmed but is expected to exceed $2 million and will be distributed amongst his victims on a percentage basis.
A total of 20 victim impact statements were entered as exhibits but were not read aloud in court on Friday. None of O’Brien’s victims were in the courtroom for his sentencing.
Crown Prosecutor Steven Johnston said O’Brien’s guilty plea prevented what appeared to have the makings to be a lengthy trial.
“Cumbersome is a better way to describe it than complex,” said Johnston. “This wasn’t complicated but it was going to take a long time to put through the justice system.”
“The fact that Mr. O’Brien did not require a trial and, as the court said, did not require all those victims coming in and testifying, reliving these things, was significantly important to the Crown.”
Johnston says a sentence of between three to six years is typical for a case like O’Briens and he cautions O’Brien’s victims to not expect to see a cheque Monday morning.
“They’ll get notified of the fact the order exists,” explained Johnston. “As the money comes into the account, they will get paid out as the court deems fit.”
Should O’Brien fail to compensate his victims in a timely manner, Justice deWit’s ruling will allow the victims to take additional legal action in an effort to retrieve their funds.
“The restitution order can become a civil court order that they can enforce themselves through the court system on the civil side,” said Johnston.
Karanpal Aujla, Sean O’Brien’s attorney, says his client accepts the ruling.
“At the end of the day, he knew the mistakes that he’d made and he knew the price that he had to pay,” said Aujla. “He was remorseful for his actions. He was apologetic for them and, basically, he owned up and took responsibility for those actions.”
“From Mr. O’Brien’s perspective, he will do anything and everything in his position to do right by the victims down the line.”
With files from CTV’s Jordan Kanygin