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The Globe and Mail

Ex-LCBO employee facing criminal charges in booze scam

LCBO store at the Manulife Centre in Toronto.

Charla Jones

A man facing a $2-million lawsuit for allegedly scamming Ontario's liquor-control authority is now facing several criminal charges.

Police say Francois Agostini has been charged with, among other things, fraud, breach of trust, theft and money laundering.

Mr. Agostini, 58, of Toronto, was a long-time employee of the LCBO.

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In its civil suit against him, the LCBO alleges Mr. Agostini sold more than 1,000 cases of vodka, rye and rum to bogus diplomats, or pocketed cash from legitimate sales.

The agency says he sold $1.6-million worth of products between April 2005 and December 2011 but never forwarded the proceeds.

Mr. Agostini will appear in Ontario court of justice on June 25.

According to the civil suit, Mr. Agostini worked at the Crown corporation from 1981 until he was fired at the end of January. He was the sole order clerk in Toronto for a program under which foreign diplomats and consular officials can buy tax-free alcohol – a 40 per cent discount.

The suit alleges he either pocketed the cash or manipulated invoices and only remitted some of the money owed the LCBO.

The alleged scam unravelled when a woman called to complain that "a female she knows got booze from a big person at head office" and was "selling the booze to people at cheap prices," the suit states.

Provincial police searched Mr. Agostini's north Toronto home in February, and seized among other things $46,000 in cash.

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The claim states that Mr. Agostini has already returned about $600,000 in cash and alcohol.

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