A local man was commended this week for turning his life around, but also warned he was out of chances.
“If you were a cat this was your ninth life,” Judge Charles Gardner told Repa Merak, who had pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud in February. Merak was sentenced on Monday.
He was placed on a year of house arrest, narrowly avoiding jail time.
Merak's crime dated back to the fall of 2007. He approached a friend with a business opportunity. He said that he knew the manager of an American electronics store that was going bankrupt and was selling off his inventory below cost.
He asked the friend for money to help ship the merchandise up to Alberta, which Merak said he was going to sell for a profit. Merak kept coming back to the man for more money as various deadlines came and went. The total added up to $6,900.
When police investigated the case, they were initially unsure if a criminal fraud had taken place or if it was simply a case of a failed business venture. Merak eventually admitted however, that there had been no chance of the man receiving his money back.
Merak is an admitted gambling addict and told the court he was addressing that through regular counselling sessions.
As of his sentencing he had fully paid back the man from whom he took the money. Crown prosecutor John Donahoe added that Merak had also paid back other people he had borrowed money from in instances where he did not face criminal charges.
The house arrest sentence was presented as a joint submission by Donahoe and Merak, who represented himself.
Merak has a record of similar convictions. Gardner said he ordinarily would have sent him to jail, but was impressed with the work Merak had done to change his life.
“It seems to me in reading this very thorough pre-sentence report that you have done things to deal with this very serious problem that you have.”
Merak promised the court he was a changed man who was turning his life around.
“I want the court to give me the chance because I won't let you down.”
Under the terms of his house arrest, Merak will be confined to his home 24 hours per day for the first three months of his sentence, allowed out only for work.
In the last nine months he will have to respect a curfew from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
He will also have to continue with his counselling and is prohibited from attending any casinos or any place where video lottery terminals are present.