Nanaimo man jailed two years for nearly $90K resale scam

By Ian Holmes
September 11, 2018 - 6:30pm

48-year-old Rodney Johnston being driven from the Nanaimo courthouse by sheriffs. Ian Holmes/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — A man who admitted to one of the biggest scams in Nanaimo in recent memory was sent to jail for two years and ordered to pay back more than $87,000 to a pair of victims.

Rodney Bradford Johnston, 48, was sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo on Friday by Judge Brian Harvey after pleading guilty to a charge of fraud over $5,000.

Court was told Johnston befriended two men at the Resort on the Lake RV park in Nanaimo between 2012 and 2015 and promised to re-sell a range of fictitious items at bargain prices.

One of the men, an elderly resort worker, is out more than $80,000, including $35,000 given to Johnston to buy 42 golf carts which were never delivered or refunded.

While waiting for the golf carts, court was told Johnston coaxed the staff member on several occasions into supplying additional money for his living expenses. The victim was continually hit by the cash-involving scam, promised camper vans, a motor home and farming equipment.

Johnston also told the victim he had access to vending machines, televisions, outboard motors and lawn mowers by bidding at an auction. Once again, the items never arrived and money was never returned to the victim.

As many of payments to Johnston were cash transactions, the Crown was only able to prove the victim out of a little over $80,000.

The elderly victim finally alerted police in June 2015 after 20 documented transactions.

During the same period, Johnston was victimizing a Port Alberni man who visited the RV park.

The second victim was duped out of $7,000 by similar promises. Johnston said he could get valuables for cheap from inside several written off sea cargo containers.

Johnston was handed more than $5,200 and didn't follow through on his pledge to deliver electronics to the second victim.

He then failed to provide an ATV and a pallet jack to the victim, who paid $1,200 for those undelivered items.

Crown prosecutor Brett Webber told NaniamoNewsNOW the staff member at the Resort on the Lake is “financially wiped out” from the ordeal.

He said the second victim was repaid only $200 and also profoundly impacted by being scammed.

Johnston's lawyer Cheyne Hodson told court his client suffered from trust, anger and emotional management issues due to trauma from being sexually assaulted by an uncle between the ages of 13 and 15. Opioid and alcohol abuse then followed after a series of unsuccessful back surgeries due to a car crash a decade ago.

Hodson said Johnston turned to fraud after buying and selling items wasn't enough to support his wife and two daughters.

A remorseful Johnston told judge Harvey he hasn't touched alcohol or drugs for two years and was both sorry and prepared to accept his punishment.

“I know what I did was terrible, stupid and reckless and I'm paying the price for it big time...I'm just very sorry for what I did and ready to take responsibility,” Johnston told Harvey.

Judge Harvey said both victims have been deeply impacted by Johnston's “despicable and devastating” actions, including significant financial losses, family conflicts and anxiety.

“I find that the moral culpability of Mr. Johnston to be very high,” Harvey said. “There is absolutely no question he knew what he was doing and had every opportunity to stop and not cause his victims further financial loss.”

Johnston's two years in jail includes 18-months probation with numerous conditions.

His lengthy Nanaimo-based crime wave happened while on probation for similar frauds impacting four Lower Mainland men between 2007 and 2010.


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