A well-known former Belleville businessman has pleaded guilty to two counts of false pretenses for writing multiple payroll cheques that were returned non sufficient funds.
Fighting back tears Terrance Pacso told the court Tuesday, he accepts his actions and it was never his intent to hurt anyone.
The once owner of Dem Bones Smokeshack and Sports Bar on Bell Boulevard was charged with fraud over $5,000 in March 2015, after employees complained to police their pay cheques kept bouncing.
Tuesday, the 57-year-old pleaded not guilty to fraud and guilty to two counts false pretenses – the second charge relates to a bad cheque to a supplier in Napanee.
“It was always a cash flow business bringing in $180,000 to $200,000 a month,” said Pascoe. “I got in over my head. I would write the cheques on Sunday expecting the money to be there as it came in on Saturday. I had no overdraft on my account. I’m sorry.”
Court heard evidence indicating that from January 2014 to the time of his arrest, Pascoe wrote cheques for tens of thousands of dollars to himself for entertainment and expenses while payroll cheques bounced. He continued to do so even after his bank account had been frozen.
The amount in question is $8,000 still owing to 17 employees which is entrusted to Pascoe’s defense lawyer John Bonn to be paid back.
Bonn presented letters of support from many community members on Pascoe’s behalf including former Belleville City councillor Tom Lafferty.
“I have known Terry on a personal level from many years,” Lafferty wrote. “He is a caring, generous and respectful person who is always helping the less fortunate.” Lafferty touched on how Pascoe would host an annual Christmas dinner free of charge to those in need at Dem Bones.
Another letter from Anne Gary explained how Pascoe volunteered with the Quinte Secondary School’s 50th reunion and he how offered meals to veterans on Remembrance Day.
“A conditional discharge is within the range of a reasonable sentence for matters like this,” Bonn told the court. “Given the effect this has had on (Pascoe’s) reputation in a small community such as this.”
Bonn went on to say that a criminal record would be a detriment to Pascoe’s future employment and getting involved on a volunteer basis as he has a desire to get back into the real estate business.
“His actions are indicative of bad business but don’t warrant a person to be sentenced to custody,” Bonn said.
While Crown attorney Mike Lunski said he had no issue with the fact Pascoe has done many beneficial things in the community he suggested a six month conditional sentence with three to be served under house arrest. Lunski is also asking for Pascoe to undergo 12 months probation, counselling and 75 hours community service.
No victim impact statements were submitted however Lunski said the employees were impacted as they were put out of work after Dem Bones closed as a result of the charges against Pascoe.
“This strikes at the heart of the trust relationship, paying employees with faulty cheques,” said Lunski. “This is a breach of trust.”
Madame Justice Elaine Deluzio is set to hand down her sentencing on April 28 at 9:30 a.m.