Job Stress Led to Scam, ex-Mountie Says

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Prosecutors in Montreal have recommended 4 1/2 years in jail for a retired officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who worked on an anti-telemarketing task force but ran his own scam on the side.

Craig Richards, 55, a retired Mountie, said his frustration at his superior's failure to grant him leave for stress led him to get involved in a bogus lottery scam. Richards has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced tomorrow.

He was charged with fraud, theft, perjury and conspiracy. He had been assigned to an interagency task force dubbed Project Colt involving the FBI, Mounties and Montreal police.

Richards, a former sergeant, provided names of elderly victims in the United States to three accomplices. He was arrested in December 1999 and resigned after pocketing $33,000 for himself.

In the scheme, victims received telephone offers of jackpot prizes that they could claim only if they paid taxes in advance. None ever collected their supposed prizes.

A spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police declined to comment on the case, saying the law enforcement agency had a policy against commenting prior to sentencing. Investigators from the RCMP's internal affairs unit handled the case.

The Canadian Ministry of Justice, which is prosecuting the case, did not return calls for comment.

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