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Gary Lamont pleads guilty to two charges as part of Norval Morrisseau art fraud ring

Gary Lamont, one of eight accused in the Norval Morrisseau art fraud ring, pleaded guilty to forgery and defrauding the public above $5,000

THUNDER BAY — One of the eight accused in the Norval Morrisseau art fraud ring, which has been called one of the largest art frauds in history, has pleaded guilty to two charges.

Gary Lamont, 61, appeared before Justice Bonnie Warkentin in a Thunder Bay courtroom on Monday where he pleaded guilty to one count of forgery and one count of defrauding the public above $5,000.

The facts and sentencing submissions will be heard at a second hearing scheduled for Dec. 14, where the remaining charges against Lamont are expected to be withdrawn.

Lamont was first charged in March 2023 along with seven co-accused including: Benjamin Morrisseau, 53, David John Voss, 51, Diane Marie Champagne, 63, Linda Tkachyk, 59, all from Thunder Bay, as well as Jeffrey Cowan, 47, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, James White, 81, of Essa Township, and David Bremner, 75, of Locust Hill.

The charges follow a joint three-year investigation by the Thunder Bay Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police into fraudulent art works claimed to have been done by Norval Morrisseau.

Morrisseau, also known as Copper Thunderbird, was a prominent Indigenous artist originally from Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation and famous for founding the Woodlands School of art. Morrisseau gained international fame for his works and passed away in 2007 at the age of 75.

As part of the police investigation, more than 1,000 fraudulent works of art were seized and it is believed between 4,500 and 6,000 were created by interconnected criminal rings between 2002 and 2019.

Some of the works sold for tens of thousands of dollars. The fraudulent works were also the subject of the documentary There are No Fakes.

Following the conclusion of the investigation and the arrests, investigators called it one of the largest art fraud rings in world history.

The Crown informed the court that it will be seeking a forfeiture order of the seized paintings and victims will be advised of their right to seek relief from the forfeiture.

Victims will also be provided with an opportunity to submit victim impact statements, including the potential submission of a community victim impact statement prepared by elders.

Lamont has previously pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault from incidents that took place between 1993 and 2007, involving male victims between the ages of 17 and 24 years old, and was arrested on a new charge in 2022, which remains before the courts.

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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