On what was expected to be his sentencing date Thursday morning, a local contractor charged with numerous counts of fraud said he wants his previous plea of guilt struck from the record.
Although Scott Eisemann pled guilty to seven of 13 charges at the Orillia Courthouse on Jan. 11, with sentencing scheduled for today, he told the court on Thursday there were “so many issues” with the previous statement of facts and that “perception issues” with the facts contributed to his previous guilty plea.
The Brechin-based contractor allegedly collected more than $300,000 in payment from a variety of clients in the Simcoe County and Muskoka area – dating back to 2017 – and either failed to complete the projects or never delivered the promised work.
Prior to the proceedings, the visibly distressed Eisemann sat in the courtroom aisle with a supporter — who identified himself as Eisemann’s “boss” — whispering aloud to the accused that he’s “got his back” and that “these people are beneath us.”
Shortly after proceedings began, defence lawyer Emily Dyer notified the court she will no longer represent Eisemann, asking to be removed from the case “due to a breakdown in the solicitor-client relationship,” stating it would be “impossible” for her to proceed.
Eisemann told the court he has spoken with several lawyers in recent days, and he plans to return to court with new representation on Feb. 13.
Eisemann said his “perception issues” stemmed from a difference in his understanding of facts when he read them, versus when they were spoken in court on Jan. 11.
He cited the facts relating to Hal Gaber, from whom he had collected $125,000 to tear down a structure on Gaber’s Oro-Medonte property and construct a new home. Eisemann collected payment in three instalments between 2019 and 2020, but never began the work.
“When I physically heard (the facts) in the court, there were so many issues … (I) cannot accept the plea,” Eisemann told the court. “(I was) suffering from severe depression, distorted thoughts, not sleeping properly.”
Eisemann also stressed he was “not intentionally doing this to waste any court time.”
Crown attorney Neil Riley spoke strongly against the notion of striking Eisemann’s previous guilty plea.
“He had the benefit of counsel ... there’s absolutely no basis to strike (the plea),” he said.
Justice A.M. Nichols did not provide a ruling on Eisemann’s request to strike the plea at court on Thursday.
As proceedings unfolded, six of Eisemann’s alleged victims looked on and shook their heads as things unfolded.
“Are you f****** kidding me?” exclaimed Liz Saunders after the proceedings; she claims she paid Eisemann $59,000 for work on her cottage that was never completed.
“It's shown one thing and one thing only to this guy: that profits from crime outweigh the consequences of accountability, and he's still not listening to accountability – it’s still going on,” said Kim Burt.
“My fear is, two years down the line, when this guy walks, he goes right in and starts another business that does the same thing over and over.”
Eisemann, who was previously convicted of fraud in 2014, said he wants to “make it right” for everyone involved following Thursday’s proceedings.
“Since 2017, I have been trying to figure out a way to make this right for these people. I haven't said anything up to this time, because I was told not to. This is eating at my soul, at my core, and this is wrong, and it needs to be set right,” he said.
“You know, at the end of the day, if they want me to do time, that's fine. I accept that. I understand that, but I want to get these people paid. I just want to make it right.”