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2 trailers, 1 boat: Docs. reveal ‘very snug’ way of life of Ont. youth residence operator

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Click to play video: 'Whistleblowers from Ontario group home say money came before kids'







Whistleblowers from Ontario group residence say cash got here earlier than children


Whistleblowers from Ontario group residence say cash got here earlier than children

Three days earlier than his Grade 8 commencement, Liam Smith acquired devastating information – his mom had died in a automobile accident.

“To have mother again and be residing on a regular basis with my brother … I’d do something to have that,” mentioned Smith, who was simply 13 when his mother died.

Along with his father out of the image, he tried to dwell together with his prolonged household however bumped into issues. He mentioned family members couldn’t or didn’t need to handle him.

At 15, he entered Ontario’s youngster welfare system and was finally positioned in a gaggle residence run by Connor Properties. The corporate is owned by a household in japanese Ontario that additionally operates luxurious trip leases.

“It felt such as you weren’t value something if you had been in there,” mentioned Smith, who spent two years in its care and is now 22. “They’re making a bunch of cash, however we got $70 every week on groceries per child.”


Click to play video: '‘There was no village for us,’ says former group home youth'







‘There was no village for us,’ says former group residence youth


‘There was no village for us,’ says former group residence youth

An earlier World and APTN investigation revealed allegations of rundown residing circumstances that Smith and different children confronted inside some Connor Properties residences, like crumbling houses and restricted meals or clothes budgets.

It additionally confirmed the important thing gamers behind the corporate, Bob Connor and his son Sean, have amassed actual property property beneath their very own names and thru their firms estimated to be in extra of $10 million. A few of these properties are a part of a luxurious trip rental enterprise, which features a personal island.

The investigation has now uncovered courtroom paperwork outlining how one of many principals behind Connor Properties appeared to dwell “a really snug way of life” – 5 worldwide holidays in lower than a 12 months, a BMW and a motor boat – whereas declaring a modest revenue of $36,000.


Liam Smith, 22, spoke with World Information/APTN about his time in Ontario’s child-welfare system.


(World Information)

Former residents and staff say the house owners paid extra consideration to income streams than property upkeep or offering sufficient sources for its youth.

“You knew that (the house owners) had the cash but it surely wasn’t within the residence(s),” mentioned a former Connor Properties employee, whom World Information and APTN aren’t figuring out due to concern of reprisal.

“The children didn’t see that cash.”

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Smith described residing in a residence in want of repairs, little cash for meals or actions, and punitive guidelines that exacerbated his psychological well being points.  Privateness issues for the kids in care stop World Information/APTN from figuring out the areas of the houses.

He mentioned children got a rating for finishing every day duties like making their beds: Fail to get sufficient factors and freedoms may very well be restricted. Typically this was attributable to having a “unhealthy psychological well being week,” Smith mentioned.

READ MORE: Inside Ontario group houses the place children had been known as ‘paychecks’

In a single occasion, the corporate prevented him from happening a uncommon go to together with his brother to the zoo as a result of he hadn’t earned sufficient “factors,” Smith mentioned.

However the boredom – no actions or entry to WiFi, and few journeys exterior the house – was the most important drawback, he mentioned.

“Whereas in Connor Properties, I attempted to commit suicide 3 times,” mentioned Smith.

“There was simply nothing ever to do. You’re so bored.

“I (didn’t) even need to wait (three years) until I’m out of care. I’d quite simply go now, like, screw this. That’s what’s happening in your head.”

Numbered firms behind Connor Properties

The World Information/APTN investigation additionally uncovered a tangled community of numbered firms the Connor household used to handle its actual property property and youth houses.

Based within the Seventies, the corporate at one time had greater than 130 beds throughout the province in roughly 40 group and foster houses.

It now operates simply three group houses with area for as much as 20 children. Connor Properties surrendered its foster-care company licence on Could 5, 2022 after a authorized battle with the province.


Click to play video: 'Ont. family behind luxury vacation rentals and allegedly rundown group homes'







Ont. household behind luxurious trip leases and allegedly rundown group houses


Ont. household behind luxurious trip leases and allegedly rundown group houses

World Information/APTN obtained divorce paperwork from 2011-2013 between Sean Connor and his former spouse of greater than 10 years, which included summaries of his private and enterprise tax data.

His ex-wife alleged his household earned “important revenues” from the kid welfare enterprise and Sean Connor engaged in “extraordinarily aggressive accounting strategies” and “derives important undeclared money funds from it as nicely.”

Within the divorce filings, Connor declared $36,000 in revenue – half a family revenue of $72,000 that he income-split together with his spouse for tax functions. But, the paperwork present this was inconsistent with an allegedly lavish way of life.

The paperwork additionally reveal a classy layering of numbered firms that allowed each Bob and Sean Connor to obtain funds from the contracts meant to care for youths.

Bob Connor is president and co-owner of 1392644 Ontario Inc., also referred to as Connor Properties, which supplies licensed residential care to children within the youngster welfare system.


Bob Connor (left) and his son Sean (proper) are the house owners and operators of Connor Properties.


(Fb/World Information)

A separate firm, 511825 Ontario Inc., exists to carry his portfolio of actual property property, together with a number of residences used as group houses and at the least 4 properties used as luxurious trip leases or mattress and breakfasts close to Campbellford, Ont.

His son, Sean, is the president of 1324455 Ontario Inc. With no authorities licences to function group houses or a foster care company himself, Sean Connor had just one shopper: his father’s firm.

Appearing as a center man, 1324455 Ontario Inc. managed a few of the foster houses in japanese Ontario for Connor Properties. This subcontracting association was in impact as of 2013, in accordance with the paperwork, however probably modified as Connor Properties surrendered its foster care licence in 2022.

Company monetary statements for 1324455 Ontario Inc. present between $516,000 and $770,000 in annual working bills from 2007 to 2009 – prices incurred whereas Sean Connor was appearing as a subcontractor for Connor Properties’ foster care company.

Connor’s ex-wife alleged that in every of these years, round $300,000 of these working bills had been “inaccurate, created or inflated claims” or “oblique advantages” that he derived from the corporate.

In “tax summaries” he ready for his accountant that had been additionally submitted within the divorce proceedings, Sean Connor listed bills together with $20,000 for a ship buy, over $12,000 in funds for 2 tenting trailers and $67,000 in lodge and leisure/restaurant prices over three years.

READ MORE: Children restrained over 2000 instances in a single 12 months in Ontario’s child-welfare system

His former spouse additionally alleged that from October 2010 to September 2011, Sean Connor took 9 holidays to locations similar to Barbados, Costa Rica and Cuba – in addition to two journeys to France.

The paperwork allege Connor owned three houses, two automobiles – a Jeep Wrangler and BMW Z3 – along with the boat and two tenting trailers.

Forensic accountants who reviewed the paperwork say that a few of the deductions increase important pink flags and that auditors from the Canada Income Company would disallow plenty of these bills.

“There’s no cause to report a private boat on a private tax return,” mentioned Matt McGuire, a forensic accountant and internationally acknowledged professional in anti-money laundering. “Neither ought to he have given them the trailer numbers or the like.

“These are all not deductible bills.”

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With two firms taking a lower of the general public funding, it raises questions as as to if fewer {dollars} reached children in care.

A World Information/APTN evaluation of 2018 funds paperwork confirmed kids’s help societies spent a mean of $173 a day for each youngster they positioned in a foster residence operated by an organization like Connor Properties – funds meant to cowl meals, clothes, actions and wages.

READ MORE: A more in-depth have a look at Ontario’s child-welfare system the place children are ‘commodities’

However a contract from Connor Properties from that 12 months exhibits foster dad and mom acquired $58 a day to take care of every youngster.

“You distinction (the Connor household) way of life towards the amount of cash that they’re paying individuals to truly take care of these kids; it’s comparatively a pittance,” McGuire mentioned.

The tax summaries for Sean Connor indicated he claimed $30,000 on promoting bills from 2007 to 2009. Over the identical interval, he claimed one other $38,000 on eating places and accommodations regardless of his father being his solely shopper.

Sean Connor declined repeated requests for an interview and didn’t reply to an in depth listing of questions on his enterprise deductions for this story.

He denied his ex-wife’s allegations that he engaged in “aggressive accounting strategies” to counterpoint himself, in accordance with one among his personal sworn affidavits.

In that doc, he mentioned his journeys had been typically primarily based on “final minute offers” or his dad and mom paid for the associated fee, and several other autos had been used for enterprise functions.

Connor additionally mentioned one trailer was typically used instead of “accommodations” throughout enterprise journeys, with him working and taking convention calls inside it, his affidavit mentioned. The opposite was rented out to Connor Properties.

He additionally defended the lodge and leisure prices, in addition to the $30,000 spent on promoting, as being obligatory to advertise his enterprise to the federal government and youngsters’s help societies, the affidavit mentioned.

“I completely deny these allegations,” Connor mentioned within the affidavit. “I’ve a chartered accountant put together my taxes and I presume that she operates beneath accepted accounting practices.”

He argued within the affidavit that the listing of enterprise and private tax deductions he submitted within the courtroom paperwork was in some instances “inaccurate” and never all objects listed had been declared as private or enterprise bills when his accountant truly ready and filed his tax returns.


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Children ‘might not be protected’ in Ontario’s youngster welfare system


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Connor additionally mentioned that if a enterprise expense he tried to assert was deemed incorrect by his accountant, he would pay that expense again to the corporate.

“The actual fact is that bills incurred are professional bills and my accountant determines that are applicable enterprise versus private bills,” he mentioned within the affidavit.

Nonetheless, throughout the divorce proceedings, Sean Connor and his ex-wife in the end agreed to find out youngster and spousal help primarily based on an estimated wage of $200,000, not the $36,000 he declared on his taxes after income-splitting together with his spouse.

Sean Connor denied his ex-wife’s allegation that he “derives important undeclared money funds” from his enterprise.

“I’m extraordinarily insulted by this assertion in (my ex-wife’s) Affidavit, which she makes with none substantive proof in anyway.”

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The allegations contained within the paperwork observe earlier reporting by World Information and APTN, which highlighted the crumbling circumstances at Connor Properties and revelations the identical household owns a fleet of trip property leases.

Interviews with greater than two dozen former staff, photographs from contained in the houses, inspections reviews and courtroom filings revealed houses in want of repairs and allegations the corporate was slicing prices to the detriment of the children’ wants.

“(Connor Properties tried) saving cash wherever they may, even when it was slicing corners,” mentioned a former employee whom World Information has agreed to not determine for concern of reprisal.

“Two of the three houses that I labored at had been horrible by way of residing circumstances,” the previous employee mentioned. “I at all times thought that there was a superb amount of cash that was accessible to those children, but it surely simply by no means appeared to actually get there.”

Smith mentioned the shortage of cash for actions typically led to children being bored, which in flip led to issues. He mentioned he was bodily restrained by workers greater than “50 instances.”

Restraints are purported to be a final resort – used solely when kids are at imminent threat of injuring themselves or others, in accordance with the province.

“I can’t depend what number of instances simply standing within the workplace ended up, like, in a restraint, simply because we had been bored,” he mentioned.

“It makes you surprise why (the Connor household) even have group houses within the first place,” Smith mentioned. “What’s the motive behind it? Is it him making a living, or does he care and need to create a house for youths?”


Photographs are proven from inside youth residences owned by Connor Properties in japanese Ontario.


(Equipped)

When reached by reporters at one among his trip rental properties in japanese Ontario, Bob Connor refused to return to the door. His son Sean additionally declined interview requests and wouldn’t reply particular questions associated to allegations about care inside the corporate’s houses, citing “confidentiality” issues.

In a subsequent assertion to World Information, Sean Connor mentioned the kids within the firm’s care are “supported with a remedy plan, weekly check-ins, and wrap-around help from a multidisciplinary group together with a social employee, psychotherapist, psychologist, and therapist.”

“Our evaluation course of was created by Connor Properties and acquired approval from the Ministry,” he mentioned, including that their “funding was reviewed and audited yearly.”

“Connor Properties’ operations in the end try to exceed the legislated minimal regulatory requirements,” he mentioned. “For over 40 years, Connor Properties’ Foster Care licence was constantly renewed by the Ministry with none circumstances.”

READ MORE: Inspection reviews reveal disturbing circumstances inside Ontario group houses

However Smith and staff on the residence mentioned the Ministry of Youngsters, Neighborhood and Social Providers (MCCSS) must be taking a more durable have a look at what goes on in personal group houses.

Minister Merilee Fullerton’s workplace declined repeated requests for an interview.

A spokesperson for the MCCSS mentioned in an announcement the ministry is “enhancing oversight and accountability” within the youngster welfare system.

The province mentioned it has modified its tips to extend the variety of youth and workers interviews carried out for foster-care licensing inspections.

Baby welfare consultants and youngsters who’ve lived in personal group houses, nonetheless, say the Ontario authorities ought to be seeking to change “your complete system” and take earnings out of caring for youths.

“It takes a village to lift a baby, however I don’t assume there was a village there for us,” Smith mentioned.

— with extra recordsdata from Elizabeth Sargeant and Rajpreet Sahota

If you want to share your expertise working or residing within the child-welfare system, please attain out to us at examine@globalnews.ca

 



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