An auto dealer convicted of fraud was too frightened to show up for his sentencing Monday in Kelowna.
David John Mills borrowed money from the Independent Soldiers, an organized crime group, and members are still after him, court heard. Mills asked to be sentenced over the phone because he's afraid someone will hurt him if he appears in public.
"Some of the money he borrowed . . . turns out to be the Independent Soldiers' money. Mr. Mills has indicated he has paid back a lot more than he borrowed, but they're still not done yet," his lawyer, West Munson, told Judge Jane Cartwright.
"He was in court . . . in the past where in fact some of the individuals in that organization were in the courthouse, and he was helped out of the courthouse by the sheriff and the RCMP in his vehicle to get back out of town."
Mills, 42, operated D-L Mills Auto near Reid's Corner about three years ago. Jerry Budnick, his former landlord, said Monday that Mills owes him money and he's looking for him.
"He got me for $100,000. I collected part of it back on a bond. I got $40,000 for rent."
Mills pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud over $5,000 last year. He wants to deal with the charges so he can work again, Munson said.
Mills sat in a room at an RCMP detachment somewhere in B.C. Monday, prepared to be sentenced over the phone.
People involved with the Independent Soldiers knew he was to be sentenced in Kelowna on Monday, Munson said.
"He's quite afraid to come. He lost his house because of the money. He has since separated from his wife and child. . . . He sees his son, but they don't know where he lives. He pays money for support."
A prosecutor confirmed Mills was waiting at an RCMP detachment Monday morning. Crown counsel Dave Ruse said Mills committed fraud involving a breach of trust. He's seeking a short stint in jail or house arrest.
Ruse doubted a provincial court judge has the authority to sentence someone over the phone. Judge Cartwright agreed. She adjourned so lawyers can fix a new date for sentencing so he can appear in court by video.
The judge suggested he consider going to a courthouse with more security.
"Maybe his video appearance should be in Vancouver, because they have extra security," Cartwright said.
Mills's business sold used vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, convertibles and Hummers. An Internet search revealed several locations in Kelowna for the dealership.