Wednesday, December 14, 2016

30 years ago: "Christian" restaurateur in Edmonton is charged with dangerous driving and sexual assault

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. Proverbs 26:11

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. Jeremiah 13:23

A backlog item--as reported by Eddie Keen in the Edmonton Sun, November 17, 1986 (bold in original):

When Paul Pearson started The Ole Gospel Restaurant he expected hassle from those with high expectations about how a Christian business chould operate.

Pearson was prophetic; his problems have become more difficult than he could have imagined.

On Nov. 1, Pearson was charged with dangerous driving following an accident.

On Nov. 7, Pearson was charged with the sexual assault of a 15-year-old employee of The Ole Gospel Restaurant.

Pearson has not made a secret of his criminal past and admits there are warrants for his arrest in Kamloops, B.C. and Alma, New Brunswick, for fraud. He describes them as minor matters which he would like waived here to be settled.

Sexual assault charge

The sexual assault charge arose after Pearson drove his teenage employee home.

Pearson says he hired a private detective to work on the case and has paid a lawyer $10,000 to defend him.

"I will be found innocent, but the cost to me and my family and possibly to the business is immeasurable, " says Pearson.

The Ole Gospel Restaurant, described by Pearson as one of the five most-successful dining establishments in Our Town, began its existence on 124 St. amidst controversy.

The restaurant is in the old Family Fitness Centre, an operation that conned many people into buying lifetime memberships before closing its doors.

A restaurant called Splinters was first into the location, then followed by 124 St. Pasta.

The Pasta place operated a few months and then closed with accusations being hurled concerning what had happened to investors' money.

Staff was unpaid, creditors left hanging. One of the investors, Elaine Milliken, ad her boyfriend Don Wimperis felt something was wrong with the way the business had folded and refused to leave the premises.

They barricaded themselves inside with a guard dog and remained there even though police were called to the scene a number of times.

"When we arrived one day and found the locks had been changed we just broke in and stayed there," says Wimperis.

Wimperis says that one night, about 40 people gathered in the parking lot shouting and yelling at them to get out.

"As far as as I know, they were people representing the Ole Gospel Restaurant trying to get us out," says Wimperis, who adds that he and Milliken lost thousands of dollars and, in addition, signed personal guarantees on kitchen equipment still in The Ole Gospel operation.

Pearson also has had employee trouble, blaming some of the problems on attempting to give deserving people a break and not having it work out.

When Don Zanders was working as a cook, produce arrived one day and the delivery man demanded cash.

Zanders says he paid the bill out of his pocket, but then couldn't collect from Pearson.

The day Zanders served the Ole Gospel Restaurant with a summons to small claims court, an employee simply threw it into a garbage can declaring: "That's what we do with those."

Cook wins undisputed claim

No one showed up to protest the claim and Zanders won a judgment for $153.

Jim Lyon, who worked as a cook in the Ole Gospel, filed a complaint with the labor board claiming overtime and holiday pay.

"We are vulnerable because we are a Christian restaurant," says Pearson, who adds his religious conversion five years ago was "dramatic."

"We have the same problems that other business do," says Pearson, "but we are expected to pay our bills right away and not have disputes with employees."

Pearson says the Ole Gospel's policy of no booze and no tobacco has worked out well.
The Ole Gospel Restaurant went out of business shortly after this column appeared, if I recall correctly. It eventually became one of several Rosie's restaurants in Edmonton, and was torn down a dozen or so years ago to make way for a parking lot.

I don't know the outcome of Paul Pearson's legal cases reported in Mr. Keen's column, but a Google search turned up some more recent items on Mr. Pearson, who has also done business under some other names. To put it charitably, he has quite a colourful resume, with a variety of work experiences. As for his "dramatic" religious conversion, as they used to say in Get Smart, "I find that very hard to believe." Here are a few items, from 2010-2015:

As reported by Sitka Log Homes, September 7, 2010 (bold, link in original):

We came across this headline recently posted on BClocalnews.com : Kamloops fraudster pays $158,000, gets 20 months house arrest
We were delighted when we read the article that described convicting the old log home industry scammer from a way back, Paul Pearson. The article talks about Pearson setting up fake trade shows and collecting money from exhibitors. It doesn't mention the log home industry and how we have been effected by this fraudster but he has worked his unethical slight of hand on our industry as well. Sitka Log Homes caught him in a scam years ago which didn't cost us any money but was extremely unethical never the less. That was about ten years ago, so we don't really buy the line about him only scamming people after the market went soft. Oh please! Paul Pearson was scamming people back when the market was hot too! Here is the article in full:

Kamloops fraudster pays $158,000, gets 20 months house arrest
By Laura Tester
A Kamloops man has received 20 months of house arrest and will pay $158,000 in restitution after scamming booth exhibitors out of thousands of dollars from phony trade shows he set up in Red Deer and Calgary.

Paul Raymond Pearson, 58, pleaded guilty in Red Deer provincial court on Friday, Aug. 27, to one count of fraud over $5,000, 16 counts of fraud under $5,000 and one count of attempted fraud.

Another 67 fraud-related charges were withdrawn, as were fraud-related charges laid against Pearson’s 60-year-old wife, Gloria.

Crown prosecutor Tony Bell said the offences occurred between July 30, 2007, and Feb. 15, 2009, when Pearson began advertising trade shows through the Internet.

He would then contact businesses by email about their potential interest.

Pearson collected money from 18 victims who gave money toward booth space at one of the fake trade shows he had organized, Bell said.

Pearson collected just over $14,500 from the Rig Expo Trade Show in Red Deer that was held for one day in May 2008 and which drew only 22 attendees.

Pearson then received nearly $14,000 from potential exhibitors of the Lift Haul Expo, which was organized for Red Deer in September 2008, but was never held.

The Big Buck Expo, planned for Red Deer in June 2009, saw Pearson take in nearly $728.

Pearson also picked up almost $12,700 from exhibitors who planned to attend a Go Green Expo in Calgary in April 2009, but the exhibition never happened.

“He utilized the proceeds for his purposes,” Bell said.

The Crown and defence asked for a 20-month conditional sentence, to be served at Pearson’s Kamloops house.

Bell said Pearson will only be allowed to leave his house for medical visits and other allowances pre-approved by his supervisor.

A number of other conditions were placed on Pearson, including a prohibition on owning electronic devices.

Pearson has served two-and-a-half months in custody since being arrested by Red Deer RCMP in June.

Bell noted Pearson handed over a cheque of $158,000, money obtained through a trust fund of his.

That money will be distributed among various victims of the trade shows, including those for which charges were withdrawn.

Defence lawyer Lorne Goddard said Pearson had lived with his wife of 30 years on property outside Kamloops, which has since been sold.

Pearson was organizing trade shows and was quite successful at it, but the market became saturated and activity slowed, Goddard said.

“He started using other people’s money to support his family,” Goddard said.

Pearson, a heavy-set man dressed in remand-blue coveralls, expressed remorse for defrauding people of their money.

“I am ashamed for what I have done, not only for my victims, but to my family. I am sorry,” Pearson said while bowing his head and nervously clasping his hands.

Judge John Holmes said he had to take into account the amount of money and number of victims Pearson had defrauded.

Holmes added Pearson was “managing to pay restitution, which often doesn’t happen in these cases.”

The court will be provided a list of victims by the Red Deer RCMP this week.

Anyone wanting information can call primary RCMP investigator Const. Slavica Doktor at 1-403-341-2069.

Doktor said a good portion of the victims were from Red Deer and Calgary, but noted some of those duped are from the United States.

“Three-quarters of what he took in will be paid to his victims, including the Rig Expo people for [which the charges were withdrawn],” said Doktor.
As reported by Robert Koopmans of the Kamloops Daily News, December 6, 2011:

If driving and texting is legally risky behaviour these days, then wielding a cellphone in traffic while banned by a judge from having one must be downright dangerous.

Paul Pearson, 58, learned that lesson Tuesday as he was jailed 18 days for breaching the terms of a conditional sentence order.

Pearson is serving a 20-month conditional sentence for 17 counts of fraud, stemming from the way he organized a series of trade shows in Alberta.

Prosecutor Sarah Firestone told the court Kamloops RCMP were monitoring Lansdowne Street Monday afternoon when they saw a truck pass by with the drive clutching a lit-up cellphone.

When stopped, police learned Pearson was banned from owning a cellphone. He told police he had permission to use one for business, but officers seized the device anyway. When they checked with his sentence supervisor Tuesday, they learned Pearson had never been granted permission.

Pearson turned himself in at the Kamloops courthouse Tuesday and pleaded guilty immediately.

Judge Stella Frame said it's difficult to know why the Alberta judge banned Pearson from having cellphones, but there must have been a reason.

"Each term must be complied with to the letter," she said, noting he will likely be out of jail by Christmas.

Pearson told the court he is sorry for making such a foolish mistake, but he believed he was allowed to use a cellphone for business.

"I did not know I was breaking the law. I thought everything was fine," he said.

The RCMP investigated Pearson in Alberta in 2009 and 2010 after many businesses there complained he charged businesses for space at a series of trade shows he never intended to operate. Refunds were not given. Police identified more than 80 victims, who were defrauded more than $200,000.

At his sentence hearing in Red Deer in May 2010, Pearson was ordered to abide by numerous conditions, including house arrest, a curfew, and a term prohibiting him from using or owning electronic communication devices or computers.

In Kamloops, he applied to be able to use a computer for his work. A judge agreed but he was not given permission to own or use a cellphone.

The court was told Pearson was also ordered to pay restitution of $158,000 to the victims of the trade show scheme. The money has all been repaid, the judge heard.
As reported by CBC News, December 12, 2012 (updated, December 13, 2012) (bold in original):

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is warning First Nations across the province to stay away from a talent contest that is targeting aboriginal youth and using the name Canadian Idol without permission.

Meanwhile, the company that owns the licence to Canadian Idol says the man behind the purported talent contest, who has a record of several convictions for fraud, must stop misusing its brand.

A CBC News investigation has revealed that a website called First Nations Auditions, run by Paul Pearson, is using the name of the television show and has been soliciting $150 audition fees and promising a $50,000 top prize.

Stewart Phillip, Grand Chief Union of BC Indian Chiefs, had harsh words for Pearson’s contest.

"I think it’s very disgusting, very unethical, very sleazy," Phillip said.

After hearing what the CBC News investigation had found, Phillip decided to send a warning to all 200 B.C. First Nations about the website and the contest it’s promoting.

"There has to be an awareness this is happening at this time of year," said Phillip. "I don’t think our young people certainly have $150 to waste on something that just isn't what it appears to be."

Never audition fees

John Brunton, CEO of Insight Productions and the former executive producer of Canadian Idol, said Pearson’s contest is a scam, noting that there have never been registration or audition fees associated with the Idol franchises.

"For somebody to be taking advantage of unknowing people is really deplorable and I think that if the rights holders found out about this, and I certainly will inform them, that they would really want to go after anybody that is abusing the Idol name," Brunton said.

Pearson has previously been convicted of fraud in Alberta and is the subject of a Better Business Bureau warning, CBC News has learned.

Angela Reynolds, an aspiring singer from the Stellat'en First Nation, says she was excited when she read that auditions were being held on her tiny reserve in northern B.C. It was billed as a First Nations version of Canadian Idol.

"It said you could win $50,000 and a recording contract and they said … it was like a bus tour and they were going to be visiting reserves across Canada," she told CBC News.

The website said a $150 registration fee had to be submitted with all applications to audition.

"Should the audition fees not be submitted we are sorry but your name will be removed from those that wish to sing," it said.

But when Reynolds called about the competition all she got were vague answers.

"He couldn't tell me what dates, he couldn't give me an estimate of what dates," she said.

"I was angry, I was so angry thinking ‘What can I do to stop this?’"

Scammed exhibitors

The contest’s website lists Google and Best Western as sponsors, but those companies told CBC News they had never heard of the talent search. The company listed as the tour bus sponsor also told CBC News it was not involved with the contest.

Pearson was convicted and fined under the Trade Practices Act in 2002 for deceiving customers of his log home business. He declared bankruptcy three years later.

The address where aspiring singers are instructed to mail their audition fee is Pearson’s home. He just finished serving 20 months of house arrest after pleading guilty to 17 counts of fraud in Alberta. Pearson scammed dozens of exhibitors out of thousands of dollars for entry into a phony trade show.

The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about him and his aliases.

'Buyer beware'

Juno-award winning artist Kinnie Starr, who mentors aspiring aboriginal musicians, cautions people to be wary of anything promising overnight success.

"I'm concerned about anyone getting scammed, but it’s buyer beware and you need to do your research," she said.

"People are on to him [Pearson] and it's only a matter of time that people discover in full force what he is doing."

When contacted by CBC News, Pearson said he was too busy to do an interview in person.

However, he said in an email the discrepancies on his website were just mistakes, saying Google and Best Western should have been listed as "preferred companies" instead of sponsors. The contest’s website has since been changed.

The tour bus sponsor was also listed in error, said Pearson, who now claims that a late-model motorhome without licence plates sitting in his backyard is the vehicle he’ll use for the country-wide talent search.

Pearson said "not one penny" had been received from anyone looking to audition, adding his personal business was putting up the prize money.

Pearson says he has successfully conducted 54 trade shows across Canada and the U.S. over the past 30 years, saying the fraud charges in Alberta were the result of a difficult economy.

Pearson went on to say he expected to book auditions in 140 First Nations communities across Canada and has the support of several First Nations-owned radio stations.
As reported by Tim Petruk of Kamloops This Week, October 14, 2014 (links in original):

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has found a North Thompson homeowner in contempt of court for failing to properly fix a six-foot-deep hole into which she and her husband had been — and perhaps still are — dumping raw sewage.

Gloria Pearson and her husband, Paul, appeared in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

The couple’s Vinsulla property has been the subject of ongoing court proceedings since 2013 when, following a hearing, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley ordered the Pearsons to install a proper septic system.

The issue has also been brought forward by at least one neighbour.

Court heard the couple had its indoor plumbing hooked up to a pipe that ran into a six-foot open pit on the property.

Paul Pearson claimed the couple has not used toilets in their home for three years, but the Interior Health Authority (IHA) claims that’s not true.

IHA lawyer Kristen Morley said an investigator visited the property as recently as this past summer and noted a “scum layer” in the pit that appeared to be human waste.

“This is a health hazard,” Morley said.

“There’s open sewage draining into this pit. It’s simply not safe to have sewage discharging into an open pit.”

Morley said the Pearsons have lived on the property for three years and have never had a working septic system.

“There are people who live in this area,” she said. “There are other residents who have made complaints. There are people with ground-water wells in the area. The area is a floodplain. This is a serious health concern.”

Paul Pearson said he doesn’t have the money to get a septic system up and running on the property — but Dley came up with a work-around.

In addition to levying a $5,000 fine for being found in contempt of court, Dley also ordered the IHA to pay for the work on the septic system to be brought up to code.

That money will be repaid out of equity the Pearsons claim to have in the property, which is listed for sale as part of a separate proceeding.

The only hiccup might come if more liens are found on the home.

Dley gave Morley until Friday, Oct. 17, to determine whether the Pearsons have sufficient equity to pay for the septic upgrades.

Instead of paying for the repairs, the IHA wanted Dley to order that water be turned off on the Pearsons’ property or that they be ordered evicted.

Dley, however, ruled that ordering the IHA to fix the system is the only way to ensure it will be done properly and in a timely manner.

Paul Pearson is a convicted fraudster.

Four years ago, RCMP in Alberta investigated Pearson after businesses in the Red Deer area complained he charged for space at a series of trade shows he never intended to operate.

Refunds were not given.

Police identified more than 80 victims who were defrauded more than $200,000.

Pearson was given a 20-month conditional sentence for 17 counts of fraud.

A B.C. Supreme Court justice also ordered he repay $158,000 to victims, an order by which he was able to abide.

Last year, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs warned members to stay away from a talent contest promoted by Pearson, according to a CBC report.
As reported by Mr. Petruk in Kamloops This Week, August 27, 2015 (links in original):
The man sitting at the head of the table inside the almost-empty showroom at what used to be the Strauss building on Fortune Drive introduced himself as Ray.

“Ray Wilson,” he said. “General manager.”

He was not Ray Wilson. Ray Wilson does not exist.

He was Paul Pearson, a notorious convicted fraudster.

After explaining how Kamloops Auto Auctions would work and what it would offer to local car buyers, Pearson, as Wilson, gave KTW his cellphone number — the same number posted online and in flyers as the contact for the business.

“And it’s Ray,” he reiterated.

Moments later, a truck pulled into the Kamloops Auto Auctions lot and the driver rolled down his window.

“How’s it going, Paul?” the driver yelled out.

“Pretty good,” Pearson, as Wilson, shouted back.

***


READ THE MOTOR VEHICLE ASSOCIATION OF BC NOTICE BY CLICKING HERE


As Wilson, Pearson explained to KTW that the new business he was involved with would fill a void in the local vehicle-sales market.

Kamloops Auto Auctions is owned by two women — Kelly Selman and Amy Luccianio — who Pearson, as Wilson, described as long-time family friends.

They are, in fact, Pearson’s daughters.

In a phone interview later, Pearson, as himself, said he was the vice-president of marketing of Kamloops Auto Auctions.

When asked if he thought his involvement, given his criminal past, could hinder the business, he minimized it, at one point saying he was not involved in any way.

“There’s no concern at all,” he said.

“The company is registered to Kelly Selman and Amy Luccianio.

“I just put a little help in with my expertise. I’m just down assisting them, helping them out to get set up.”

Pearson then handed the phone to Luccianio.

“I just want to make sure there’s no affiliation with who you were talking to,” she said.

Luciannio was then asked why her father had, moments earlier, described himself as the vice-president.

“He is the marketing manager, who works with Ray,” she replied, apparently referencing alter-ego Ray Wilson.

Again, Ray Wilson does not exist.

***

When KTW confronted Pearson about his use of the name Ray Wilson, things got even more confusing.

“Ray is my cousin,” he said initially.

“He works here. We get mixed up a lot. Both heavy-set, both have goatees.”

On Tuesday afternoon, KTW conducted the Ray Wilson interview with Pearson at Kamloops Auto Auctions. Less than an hour later, a KTW photographer showed up to take pictures.

Pearson claimed that in the 45 minutes between the interview and the photos, Wilson had left the office and he had arrived, sitting in the same chair with the same paperwork wearing the same clothes as his cousin.

It was Pearson who was photographed, he said, but Wilson who was interviewed.

In fact, they were the same person.

Pearson then became confused in his story, at various times stating the photographer had taken his picture or taken that of Wilson.

Pearson got into his vehicle and left Kamloops Auto Auctions when the KTW photographer began taking pictures.

***

Kamloops Auto Auctions is slated to hold its first sales event on Saturday, but that may not happen.

The company also uses the name Interior Auto Auctions on its website, canadianroadshows.wix.com/car-cash, a site created through the free webpage service wix.com.

It claims to be a “No Hastle [sic] Sell your car in 5 minutes or Less” service.

Soliciting vehicles from personal owners of vehicles on its website and in flyers is what has caught the eye of the Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C. (VSABC).

Hung Wong, manager of licensing with the VSABC, told KTW the authority is looking into Kamloops Auto Auctions’ status.

“Based on the ads [flyers] we see, they are not compliant,” Wong said.

“We have concerns.

“We are continuing with our investigation.”

Wong said material promoting Kamloops Auto Auctions is asking for consumers to consign their vehicles for auction and states government surplus vehicles will also be available — neither of which can be done unless the business has a motor-dealer licence.

Wong said Kamloops Auto Auctions does not have such a licence.

He said the Vehicle Sales Authority had spoken to Kamloops Auto Auctions representatives within the last week, noting the company was told it can take from six to eight weeks to process a licence.

While a motor-dealer licence is not required for the resale of vehicles from registered dealers, Wong said dealers using an auction house to sell their vehicles must apply for off-site licences.

“We have been trying to get a list of dealers who will be at the [Saturday, Aug. 29] auction,” Wong said. “We haven’t been able to get any yet.”

VSABC said it is in the process of taking out ads in newspapers to warn readers about Kamloops Auto Auctions.

***

Kamloops Auto Auctions and its Saturday vehicle sales at 755 Fortune Dr. in North Kamloops are also promoted on a Facebook page belonging to a man named Ray Pearson from Kamloops.

The page includes a photo of Paul Pearson.

There is also a Facebook site belonging to a Paul Pearson of Kamloops, which is linked to a Facebook page he created called Logan Lake 24 HR Bid War, an auction page featuring coins and ivory items.

Its last activity was on May 29, with a discussion among members about being blocked from the site and one member posting, “I guess I’m not getting my coins.”

After he created the Logan Lake 24 HR Bid War page on Facebook, Pearson posted the following: “Due to the dictatorship and constant interference by administrators of a similar site in Logan Lake we have created our own bidding site where you the members set the rules. We are sick to death of a busy body admin telling us how , when and where we the buyers and sellers can complete our transactions. Here you can make any dam decision you want on completing the sale, if you wish to mail your items or use UPS its your right to do as you and the one you are dealing with decide. This is not Nazi Germany but rather Canada and we have the freedom to do as we wish. Please spread the word, Thanx!!!”

The other site Pearson referred to is a legitimate auction page on Facebook called Logan Lake 24 Hour Bid Wars, from which Pearson’s membership was revoked and from which he was banned from posting due to his questionable conduct on the online auction site.

In 2002, Pearson was convicted and fined under the Trade Practices Act for deceiving customers of his log-home company.

In 2005, Pearson declared bankruptcy.

In September 2010, Pearson was sentenced to 20 months of house arrest and ordered to pay $158,000 in restitution after scamming booth exhibitors out of thousands of dollars from phoney trade shows he set up in Red Deer and Calgary.

Another 67 fraud-related charges were withdrawn, as were fraud-related charges laid against Pearson’s wife, Gloria.

The offences occurred between 2007 and 2009, when Pearson began advertising trade shows through the Internet.

He would then contact businesses by email about their potential interest. Pearson collected money from 18 victims who gave money toward booth space at one of the fake trade shows he had organized.

In 2013, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs warned members to stay away from a talent contest promoted by Pearson, according to a CBC report.

Last year, Pearson and wife Gloria were in court to answer to accusations they were running sewage from their Vinsulla home into a pit in their yard.

In its short life, Kamloops Auto Auctions has also been in trouble with the City of Kamloops. Approval of its business licence was delayed this week because of illegal signage, KTW has learned.

The licence was granted late in the day Wednesday.

***

Pearson eventually came clean, admitting to KTW that he had been untruthful about his name.

He said something “smelled funny” and he decided to lie.

“When you came in and you looked around a little, there was something that went on there,” he said.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable. It was a gut feeling.

“I get a gut feeling sometimes.”

Pearson said Wilson is not a real person.

“Well, my middle name is Ray,” he said.

“And, I just said Wilson.”

Pearson said he didn’t want his tarnished reputation to impact his daughters’ business.

Rather, he wanted to put his daughters in touch with members of the Kamloops vehicle-sales community.

“I’m involved to the point of helping my daughters,” he said.

“I’m assisting them and introducing them to these guys.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that the Logan Lake 24 HR Bid War site to which Pearson was using is not connected to a Facebook auction page called Logan Lake 24 Hour Bid Wars.

In fact, according to the site administrators of Logan Lake 24 Hour Bid Wars, Pearson was a member whose membership was revoked and whose access was blocked, after which he created the similar-sounding site.

Logan Lake 24 Hour Bid Wars continues to operate and has no connection to Pearson.

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