The lawyer for a Langley road builder convicted of fraud abruptly quit Wednesday morning, delaying a sentencing hearing in Surrey Provincial Court.
Matthew Brooks pleaded guilty in January to fraud over $5,000.
Crown prosecutors have said they are seeking a four to six year jail term for Brooks, who was president of Aggressive Roadbuilders.
But before a sentencing hearing could begin, Brooks’s lawyer Paul Del Rossi announced he could no longer represent his client.
“I do not have adequate instructions,” Del Rossi said. “I’ve made best efforts to have Mr. Brooks come and see me.”
“I have been unable to pay the full amount he’s looking for, and I’ve been unable to get in there [to speak to Del Rossi] on work days,” Brooks told Judge Danny Sudeyko.
He asked for an adjournment to seek a lawyer or legal advice.
The prosecutor was not pleased with the idea of a further delay, almost two years after charges were laid.
“The Crown’s ready to proceed, as it has been since the plea was entered in January,” said Crown counsel Brian McKinley.
He listed the many, many delays that have taken place since charges were laid in early 2015, following an investigation of Aggressive Roadbuilders by the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime Section.
Although charges were laid in Feburary, it wasn’t until June of 2015 that Brooks was arraigned. There were also long waits for other hearings, and problems with the Crown scheduling witnesses in 2016.
“Mr. Brooks has had plenty of time to get his affairs in order,” McKinley said. “The Crown’s opposed to giving him any more time.”
However Sudeyko was reluctant to start the hearing with no lawyer for Brooks, given the lengthy sentence proposed.
In the early- and mid-2000s, Aggressive Roadbuilders was a major company working on contracts for various local municipalities, including Langley and Surrey.
The company build a $1.9 million stormwater control upgrade for Langley City and Township near the Langley Bypass, and build roads and sidewalks on a $3.1 million contract with the City of Surrey.
But in 2008, the Bank of Nova Scotia petitioned for Aggressive to be declared bankrupt in court. Aggressive owed the bank more than $6.4 million, plus interest, according to the bank’s claim.
The criminal investigation began shortly after bankruptcy proceedings.
Also charged in the same fraud case was Kirk Roberts of Langley, Aggressive’s controller-bookkeeper at the time. He is scheduled to go on trial before a jury on Nov. 20 in New Westminster.
A new sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Brooks for the afternoon of Oct. 23 in Surrey Provincial Court.