Lawyer’s promotion delays Next Level sentencing

The sentencing of a 28-year-old Kingston man at the centre of a multimillion-dollar Ponzi fraud has had to be delayed, due to the unanticipated elevation of his lawyer to the Superior Court bench.

Christopher Uitvlugt, chief executive officer of now defunct Next Level Investments, a company that operated in Kingston for about a year, pleaded guilty in November to one count of committing fraud over $5,000.

His sentencing was put over to allow for the preparation of a pre-sentence report. Two days this week, Thursday and Friday, had been reserved for Uitvlugt’s lawyer, Clyde Smith, and Crown prosecutor Alexander Hrybinsky to make submissions and present their recommendations on sentencing and for Superior Court Justice Gary Tranmer to render his decision.

Justice Tranmer had earlier been advised that the opposing lawyers would not be presenting him with a joint sentencing recommendation.

The dates had to be abandoned, however, after Smith received notice Tuesday that he was being appointed as a judge of the Superior Court to fill a vacancy in Lindsay, four years after he submitted his application.

The rules required him to immediately cease all practice as a lawyer.

Defence lawyer Sarah Black, who shares an office with Smith, appeared in his stead with Uitvlugt in Superior Court on Thursday.

She wasn’t able to say, at this point, who will be taking over the sentencing phase of the case and advocating for the 28-year-old. But whoever takes on the job will require time to read all of the materials and prepare arguments.

Justice Tranmer has put the case back on the Superior Court assignment list for late April, anticipating that the question of Uitvlugt’s legal representation will be settled by then and his new lawyer will be in a position to schedule new dates for his sentencing hearing.