Fraudster Earl Jones, the man behind a $50-million scam that cost many people their life savings, was to be released from prison Thursday after serving one-third of his 11-year sentence.
Joey Davis, whose mother was bilked of $200,000, says a Correctional Service Canada official called him to say Mr. Jones would be released Thursday afternoon.
Reporters who went to the Ste-Anne-des Plaines federal prison in mid-afternoon were told he had already been set free.
A spokesman for the Parole Board of Canada was not immediately available for comment.
Mr. Davis said the release will “shine a flashlight on what happened nearly five years ago” and rekindle some old feelings from Mr. Jones’s victims.
“There are a lot of families who were affected and devastated by this and it’s still fresh in their minds,” he said in an interview.
Mr. Davis said both he and his mother were surprised to learn that Mr. Jones, a self-styled financial adviser, would be released in the Montreal area, but noted that he still has to report to a parole officer once a week.
“I was told he does not have to go through a transition program [and] he does qualify for full release on his own recognizance,” Mr. Davis said.
Mr. Jones pleaded guilty to running a pyramid scheme that started in 1982 and targeted more than 150 victims, including several close friends and relatives.
Mr. Davis said his 84-year-old mother had moved on with her life but is still trying to recover after losing thousands of dollars.
“She was a long-term investor – over 25 years she had money with Earl Jones, and on paper she lost everything,” he said.
“It was a considerable amount – 90 per cent of her savings, but she was able to get back to some form of decent life, but nothing compared to what life was before.”
For Mr. Davis, there are a number of key questions that remain unanswered.
“The paper trail shows this scheme, this Ponzi scheme, was concocted in the early 1980s,” he said. “I’d really like to know what led him to do this, what were the circumstances, why he did this and also, how he was able to get away with this for so long.”
Denise Tesher, another victim, said she didn’t think justice had been served because Mr. Jones spent more than four years behind bars. A judge sentenced him to 11 years in jail in February 2010.
“It doesn’t change anything for the victims,” she said in an interview.
“I’m angry because there are eight people who died during the four-year period who probably could have made it for many more years if the stress hadn’t been there.”
Ms. Tesher, 76, said Jones got off easy and it’s not fair that he can go free.