Guilty Plea From Gary Lamont in Norval Morrisseau Art Fraud Case

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More than 1,000 alleged fraudulent artworks purported to be painted by Norval Morrisseau seized
More than 1,000 alleged fraudulent artworks purported to be painted by Norval Morrisseau seized

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – One of the key figures in the extensive Norval Morrisseau art fraud ring, Gary Lamont, has entered a guilty plea to charges related to the criminal scheme.

The case, unfolding in the Superior Court of Justice in Thunder Bay, is considered one of the largest art frauds in history.

Background: The Norval Morrisseau Art Fraud Ring

The art fraud ring centred around counterfeit works purported to be by Norval Morrisseau, a renowned Indigenous artist known for founding the Woodlands style of Indigenous Art.

This fraudulent operation had been under investigation by authorities for its scale and impact on the art community.

Guilty Plea Entered by Gary Lamont in Historic Case

Gary Lamont, aged 61, appeared in a Thunder Bay courtroom before Justice Bonnie Warkentin, where he pleaded guilty to one count of forgery and one count of defrauding the public above $5,000. This marks a significant moment in the ongoing case.

Upcoming Sentencing and Withdrawal of Remaining Charges

A second hearing, scheduled for December 14, 2023, will address the facts and sentencing submissions in Lamont’s case. It is expected that the remaining charges against him will be withdrawn at this hearing.

Profiles of the Co-Accused in the Art Fraud Case

Lamont was initially charged in March 2023, alongside seven others, including individuals from Thunder Bay, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Essa Township, and Locust Hill. The group’s alleged involvement in creating and selling fraudulent Morrisseau artworks has been the focus of a joint three-year investigation.

Impact of the Fraud on Norval Morrisseau’s Legacy

Norval Morrisseau, also known as Copper Thunderbird, was a prominent figure in the Indigenous art community. The fraud involving his purported artworks has cast a shadow over his legacy, with the criminal operation generating a significant number of counterfeit pieces.

Massive Scope of the Fraudulent Artworks Seized

Investigators seized over 1,000 fraudulent artworks and estimate that between 4,500 and 6,000 pieces were created by the criminal rings between 2002 and 2019. Some of these artworks were sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

Potential Outcomes: Forfeiture and Victim Impact Statements

The court proceedings include discussions of a forfeiture order for the seized paintings. Victims of the fraud will be given the opportunity to seek relief from the forfeiture and submit victim impact statements. The involvement of community elders in preparing a community victim impact statement is also being considered.

Gary Lamont’s Previous Legal Troubles Lamont’s guilty plea in this case adds to his legal history. He has previously pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault, with incidents dating between 1993 and 2007, and faces a new charge that remains before the courts.

Original Charged Individuals

As a result of a two-and-a-half-year investigation by the TBPS and the OPP, eight people were arrested and faced 40 total charges. More than 1,000 alleged fraudulent paintings, prints and other artworks have been seized. Some of these paintings sold for tens of thousands of dollars to unsuspecting members of the public who had no reason to believe they weren’t genuine.

David John VOSS of Thunder Bay Faces Charges:

  • Forgery contrary to Section 367 of the Criminal Code
  • Uttering Forged Document contrary to Section 368 of the Criminal Code
  • Defraud the Public Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code
  • Fraud Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1)(a) of the Criminal Code x3
  • Commission of offence for criminal organization contrary to Section 467.12 of the Criminal Code
  • Instructing commission of offence for criminal organization contrary to Section 467.13 of the Criminal Code

Diane Marie Champagne of Thunder Bay is charged with:

  • Forgery contrary to Section 367 of the Criminal Code
  • Uttering Forged Document contrary to Section 368 of the Criminal Code
  • Defraud the Public Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code
  • Commission of offence for criminal organization contrary to Section 467.12 of the Criminal Code

Gary Bruce LAMONT of Thunder Bay is charged with:

  • Forgery contrary to Section 367 of the Criminal Code
  • Uttering Forged Document contrary to Section 368 of the Criminal Code
  • Defraud the Public Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code
  • Fraud Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code
  • Commission of offence for criminal organization contrary to Section 467.12 of the Criminal Code

Linda Joy TKACHYK of Thunder Bay faces charges:

  • Forgery contrary to Section 367 of the Criminal Code
  • Uttering Forged Document contrary to Section 368 of the Criminal Code
  • Defraud the Public Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code
  • Fraud Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code
  • Commission of offence for criminal organization contrary to Section 467.12 of the Criminal Code

Benjamin Paul MORRISSEAU of Thunder Bay is charged with:

  • Forgery contrary to Section 367 of the Criminal Code
  • Participation in criminal organization contrary to Section 467.11 of the Criminal Code

Jeffrey Gordon COWAN is charged with:

  • Uttering Forged Document contrary to Section 368 of the Criminal Code
  • Defraud the Public Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code
  • Fraud Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code x 4

James WHITE of ESSA Township is charged with:

  • Uttering Forged Document contrary to Section 368 of the Criminal Code
  • Defraud the Public Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code
  • Fraud Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code x 2
  • Possess Property Obtained by Crime for the Purpose of Trafficking contrary to Section 355.4 of the Criminal Code

David P. BREMNER of Locust Hill is charged with:

  • Uttering Forged Document contrary to Section 368 of the Criminal Code
  • Defraud the Public Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code
  • Fraud Over $5,000 contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code x 2
  • Possess Property Obtained by Crime for the Purpose of Trafficking contrary to Section 355.4 of the Criminal Code

Developing story…

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