‘Ottawa’ Alleged Mastermind of Love Scheme that Defrauded Disabled Man of $850k Arrested
A self-confessed criminal who fled to Jamaica a decade ago — allegedly with the proceeds of a massive fraud that victimized a disabled Ottawa man — is now behind bars at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.
Nolan Johnson was arrested at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport earlier this month. On Tuesday, dressed in white pants and a white-patterned shirt, he was remanded in custody at the Ottawa courthouse on charges of fraud, conspiracy and possession of proceeds obtained by crime.
In a 2011 telephone interview from Jamaica, Johnson admitted that he was a drug dealer and money launderer, but he denied any part in the elaborate, emotionally manipulative con that tore apart Doug Macklem’s life in 2006. He said his ex-wife, Darquise, was to blame.
“I didn’t mastermind nothing,” Johnson told Postmedia.
Macklem, 51, an Ottawa computer systems analyst who uses a wheelchair because of his cerebral palsy, was stunned by news of Johnson’s arrest.
“Wow, I can’t believe it,” Macklem said when informed of the development by Postmedia. “I guess they always come back to the scene of the crime.”
Johnson’s lawyer, Howard Krongold, said his client, who has family in Canada, returned to the country in order to deal with his criminal charges. “Mr. Johnson maintains his innocence, and he returned to Canada to deal with these charges so he can get on with his life,” Krongold said.
At her trial in January 2011, Johnson’s ex-wife, Darquise, testified that he was the puppet master behind the romance-based scheme that defrauded Macklem of $850,000. She told court that she was beaten, kicked, choked or threatened whenever she raised objections to her husband’s plan.
Darquise Johnson, a former call girl and dominatrix, was sentenced to four years in prison for her role in the crime. She was paroled after 16 months.
Throughout 2006, Macklem invested heavily in two fictitious Caribbean tourist villas based on his belief that he was building a future with Johnson, a call girl whom he knew as Nicole L’Ecuyer. He fell in love with her during a two-year relationship that began in August 2004, when he hired her from an online escort agency.
Their relationship steadily became more involved, and Macklem believed they were going to live and raise a family together in the Dominican Republic.
In December 2006, after draining Macklem of his inheritance and retirement savings, Nicole faked her own death. Macklem received an email on Christmas Day, informing him that she had died in a car accident — only days before he was supposed to fly to the Dominican to see their vacation properties.
Macklem hired two private investigators, who soon uncovered the truth: Darquise Johnson was alive and well and living with her husband, Nolan, in Jamaica.
“This realization tore my heart out and left me as a shadow of my former self,” Macklem would later write in his victim impact statement.
Macklem went to the police and the Johnsons were charged with a series of fraud-related crimes, but the Crown attorney’s office said it would not seek their extradition.
Darquise Johnson unexpectedly returned to Canada the following year, and was promptly arrested at the airport.
She would later tell court that her husband blew $800,000 of Macklem’s money on cars, travel and gambling, and that she came back to Ottawa with only a bag of clothes to her name.
Postmedia interviewed Nolan Johnson at the conclusion of his ex-wife’s fraud trial. Johnson said he moved to Jamaica, not to hide from the law, but to provide his young children with a more stable life. The police had identified him as a drug dealer, he said, and he thought it too perilous to stay in Ottawa.
Johnson said he was too busy pushing cocaine in Ottawa to involve himself in a scheme to defraud Macklem. He tells much the same story in a book based on his criminal exploits, The Naked Truth, that he once promoted on his Twitter feed.
Evidence at his ex-wife’s trial showed that the couple shared a bank account that was inflated with money bilked from Macklem.
But Johnson said had he known the money was fraudulently obtained, he would have “cleaned” it in the same way that he laundered drug proceeds: by buying and selling cars.
Johnson insisted that he didn’t physically abuse his ex-wife, didn’t take part in the Macklem fraud, and doesn’t have his money. “If I did it, I would have the money,” he said. “I don’t drink and I don’t gamble: money is not something that is going to go through my hands like that.”
At the time, Johnson said he might eventually return to Ottawa in an attempt to clear his name.
For his part, Macklem said he’s anxious for the case to come to an end. He has all but given up hope of recovering any of his money.
“To tell you the truth, I just want this to finish,” he said. “I don’t know his purpose in coming back.”