A contractor who “preyed” upon an elderly and vulnerable woman, tore apart her home and drained her savings has been sentenced to two years less a day in jail and ordered to pay $215,000 in restitution.
Superior Court Justice Glenn Hainey found that Jack Singer “destroyed” the Willowdale home of Kennis Heath and left her in “almost uninhabitable conditions,” after convincing her to sign up and pay for more than $300,000 worth of renovations in 2008. Singer, convicted earlier of fraud in the case, was sentenced Wednesday.
Heath, 81, was “an elderly and vulnerable person and he deliberately preyed upon her and defrauded her of her life savings. (Singer’s) conduct was despicable and he has demonstrated no remorse for it,” said Hainey, reading from his ruling.
Singer, 61, was led out of court in handcuffs. But he was released on bail less than four hours after sentencing as his lawyer, Alan Gold, had earlier filed an appeal over the conviction.
Heath’s son, Brian, expressed frustration at what he felt was a lenient sentence and because the estimated value of some of the work performed by Singer on Heath’s home was factored into the restitution.“None of the work that he did at that home was of any value . . . it was all deficient. It was all below grade,” Brian Heath said. “Jack (Singer) entered into my mother’s life and completely destroyed it. Everything she had worked for her entire life . . . all her hopes and dreams all taken away from her,” he said.
Singer and his contracting business were the subject of a Star investigation published in March. The Ministry of Consumer Services has discovered dozens of possible victims allegedly defrauded by Singer and his group. Gold and Singer declined to speak to the Star throughout the trial, but in a previous interview Singer maintained his innocence and said he intended to appeal.
In 2008, Kennis Heath found a pamphlet in her mailbox for Stay at Home Renovations. When she called for a consultation, Singer came to her home. Heath, then 76, contracted the company to rebuild her chimney, install an eavestrough, build a cedar deck, install a new kitchen and two bathrooms, as well as remove black mould and put in new plumbing and electrical wiring. She assured her son, Brian Heath, the renovations were going well.
Police were called to the house after a worker raised the alarm, finding Health unresponsive in her bed, in a home with exposed wiring and no heat. She was rushed to hospital and treated for severe dehydration. The former nurse, who family members described as independent, energetic and an avid gardener, now lives in a retirement home. Heath was not well enough to testify. During a preliminary inquiry, she said Singer left her “living in shambles” and “was just tearing the house apart.”
While he waits for his appeal Singer must surrender his passport, remain in Ontario, check in with police in the last week of each month and “refrain from negotiating with any client, any renovation, building, or repair contract, either personally or through any company in which he has an economic interest,” according to a summary sent from Gold’s office. Singer “is permitted to work as a subcontractor for another contractor, but not have any direct involvement in negotiating with the client.”
During an earlier hearing, Gold had presented letters of support from Singer’s friends and family, and spoke of his previously clean criminal record and bipolar disorder. Gold had proposed a sentence of up to two years in jail and that Singer pay Heath and her family up to $150,000.
Assistant Crown Attorney Kathy Nedelkopoulos had called for Singer to be sentenced up to 4½ years and that he be ordered to pay as much as $315,000.
By: Emily Mathieu Investigative News reporter,
Published on Wed Jun 26 2013
The Toronto Start