Toronto Star

March 11, 2000

Canada, U.S. reopen file on deadbeat dad

Revelations of criminal record pique interest

By Dale Brazao and Patricia Orwen
Toronto Star Staff Reporters

Federal authorities in Canada and the United States say they are reopening their files on an Ontario deadbeat dad who owes more than $500,000 in support to his three children.

Blaine Alfred Tanner, who emigrated to the United States after marrying a prominent Cleveland lawyer in late 1997, has a criminal record in Canada for fraud and income tax evasion.

American officials now want to know how he explained his criminal history - which normally prevents entry into the U.S. - in his application for permanent residency.

A Star investigation last Saturday exposed Tanner as one of Canada's top deadbeat dads.

Provincial officials say he ranks in the top six of the province's 128,000 deadbeats, who collectively owe more than $1.2 billion.

The province's Family Responsibility Office has revoked Tanner's passport but has never been able to collect a cent from him in the nine years since a judge ordered him to pay his kids $4,000 a month.

The Star investigation also disclosed Tanner's record of fraud-related offences dating back to 1975, and that has prompted U.S. immigration officials to review his immigration file, said Mark Hansen, district director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

``There are certain offences that preclude you, even if you are married to a U.S. citizen,'' Hansen told The Star.

`There are certain offences that preclude you (from entering the U.S.), even if you are married to a U.S. citizen.'
- Immigration official

Meanwhile, justice officials in Canada say they want to know why Tanner, who was sentenced to six months in jail and a $100,000 fine in 1994, wasn't jailed for an additional six months when he didn't pay.

Tanner served just two months of the six-month sentence after pleading guilty to evading more than $360,000 in income tax in connection with $1.3 million in federal tax credits.

He was given three years to pay the fine or go back to jail.

``This article has reopened the whole issue (of Tanner's unpaid fine for tax evasion),'' said Janet Henchey, the federal government lawyer who prosecuted Tanner.

The former Brampton millionaire declared bankruptcy in 1996 and has claimed ever since that he has had no money - and basically no job - to support his children, two of whom are handicapped.

And while Tanner lives in the lap of luxury with his new wife, Cleveland civil rights lawyer Ellen Simon, his ex-wife Pam Tanner and his three children are subsisting on government disability assistance in Brampton.

The 46-year-old financier claimed in a November, 1999 affidavit: ``I am not even employed,'' adding he is completely dependent on Simon for financial support.

A month ago, his Toronto lawyer, Donald LeFeuvre, was before a judge in a Brampton court saying his client ``does not have any source of income.''

Two days later, Tanner's Cleveland lawyer, Neil Gurney, faxed a letter to The Star warning the newspaper not to publish any article on Tanner saying: ``Mr. Tanner has been, and continues to be involved in various business transactions.''

In a telephone interview yesterday, Gurney said Tanner's circumstances have changed between his affidavit of Nov. 30 and his letter of Feb. 11, and he is now working.

In a bid to wipe out his $501,000 plus interest in support arrears, Tanner's ninth lawyer in nine years will argue in an Ontario court later this month that Tanner is too poor to pay.

Meanwhile, The Star has learned that Tanner contacted Royal & SunAlliance this week and moved more than $272,000 out of an account with that insurance company.

The money was held in Simon's name.

Officials at Royal & SunAlliance told The Star the company has ``withdrawn sponsorship'' of Tanner's licence to sell life insurance and investments, over the lack of business he brought in during the last two years.

Eric Langille, who managed a Royal & SunAlliance branch in Dartmouth, N.S., said last year he considered taking Tanner as a partner in his company, Maritime Financial Services.

Langille said he understood Tanner had something to do with an ``investment operation of lawyers'' and once worked as fund manager for an investment company in Europe.

The two discussed a deal to move hundreds of millions of dollars in pension money from the U.S. into Canada, Langille said.

But Langille's query to the National Parole Board in April, 1999, as to whether Tanner had been pardoned was never answered, and the deal didn't materialize, he said.

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