Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Calvin Barry Defends Exchange Bandit

‘Exchange bandit’ who robbed banks – including those in Waterloo Region – on lunch hours gets 6 years

By John Goddard, Toronto Star

A Bay Street financier who robbed banks in a wide-ranging area – including Kitchener and Cambridge – on his lunch hour was sentenced Monday to six years in jail.

Calling bank robbery a serious crime that “cries out for denunciation and deterrents,” Justice Sheila Ray rejected a defence recommendation that Kevin Pinto, 38, walk free after 13 months in custody.

Although Pinto went unarmed and never wore a mask, he robbed 10 banks in Kitchener, Cambridge, Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton starting in 2002 and lacks empathy for the trauma he caused others, the judge said.

Dubbed the “exchange bandit,” Pinto earned his nickname because his modus operandi was to walk into a bank, ask the teller the exchange rate on the U.S. dollar and then deliver a holdup note, which sometimes said he had a gun and warned, “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Pinto arrived in the Ontario Court of Justice at Old City Hall on Monday with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Wearing a charcoal business suit and blue dress shirt, sitting alone in the prisoner’s dock, he appeared nervous as the judge began her remarks. His eyes flitted up and down. He occasionally swallowed hard. His shoulders appeared to twitch now and then.

Minus time served, Pinto’s sentence works out to three years and four months.

A financial compliance officer for the investment firm Paradigm Capital, Pinto turned himself in October 2008 after the Canadian Bankers Association posted a $10,000 reward for his capture and Toronto police released surveillance video and photos of him committing the robberies, which all occurred between 10:45 a.m. and 1:55 p.m.

He pleaded guilty to 10 counts of robbery in September.

Born in Bahrain, Pinto immigrated to Canada in 1987, when he was 16. He studied psychology and sociology at the University of Western Ontario, where his addiction first took hold while betting on sports, court heard during his sentencing hearing.

By age 25, he was gambling about $1,000 a day. His compulsive gambling addiction maxed out his credit cards and left him more than $100,000 in debt, according to his lawyer, Calvin Barry.

Pinto’s first heist was on Jan. 2, 2002, in Mississauga where he walked out with $4,500 stuffed in an envelope. He later robbed banks in Brampton, Kitchener, Cambridge, Oakville and downtown Toronto. The amounts ranged from $255 to $9,600, adding up to over $33,000.

At Paradigm Capital, he was responsible for providing oversight and ensuring the firm’s trading activities complied with regulatory requirements. He also previously worked at National Bank.

The robberies occurred over a six-year period, from 2002 until September 2008, but stopped for about two years, between 2004 and 2006, while he was married. His marriage eventually fell apart as a result of Pinto’s compulsive gambling, court heard.

At his sentencing hearing, Barry called his client a “man of faith,” and a devoted member of St. Michael’s Church. He spoke of Pinto’s stellar employment history, his lack of criminal record and his guilty plea as mitigating factors in his sentence.

Barry also read several letters of support from Pinto’s family, and reiterated his client’s stated desire to seek treatment for his addiction.

Barry said Pinto needed therapy, not additional incarceration. Crown attorney Louise MacNaughton argued that the seriousness of Pinto’s crimes merited a tougher sentence.

“While he does have a gambling addiction, he is indeed a master manipulator,” she said.

With files from Brendan Kennedy


Monday, November 9, 2009


Monday, November 9, 2009
Fraud charge dropped

The owner of a Toronto tow-truck company who has a multi-million dollar contract with the police department had fraud charges against him dropped as the result of a polygraph test.

John Long, owner of Downtown Towing, was awarded a towing contract last year with the Toronto Police Services but only had insurance papers for 19 of 21 trucks included in his preliminary bid for the contract.

"It has been a long, long road for me," Long said yesterday.

The Crown dropped the charges against Long, who passed a polygraph "with flying colours," said defence lawyer Calvin Barry.

"He had no knowledge that the two trucks had documentation problems. You can't keep on top of everything. You have to put trust in the people you employ. He had the other trucks good to go," Barry said.

"Mr. Long has no prior criminal convictions and for the final tender all the trucks had documentation ... He has been exonerated."

Barry added he didn't know how the investigation was started against his client.

"It is hard to quantify how all this has affected his business, but since the allegations are behind him, business will go back to the way it was," Barry said. Long had two of his trucks set ablaze.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009