Ottawa citizen sept 4 1993
Andrea Michael Cortellazzi, has been fined and placed on probation after pleading guilty to fraudulently collecting fees to arrange mortgages and for operating as an unregistered mortgage broker.
Cortellazzi, who operated James Andrews Development Corporation on Bank Street, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud over $ 1,000 in connection with complaints that he collected fees to arrange mortgages, but didn't refund the money when mortgages were never arranged.
He was ordered to repay $ 7,685 to two victims whose complaints led to the fraud charges and was placed on 24 months probation, after pleading guilty in Provincial Court in Ottawa.
Cortellazzi also faces a fine of $ 5,000 or five months in prison, for operating as a mortgage broker without registering under the Ontario Mortgage Act.
Cortellazzi's wife, Giovanna Raso, who operated JRC Realty Consulting at the same Bank Street location, was convicted in February of carrying on a business as a mortgage broker. She was fined $ 2,000. Cortellazzi's employee, Denis Clairmont, was also fined $ 500 after conviction for the same offence.
Sept 10 1998 montreal gazette
Several parents whose children were enrolled in a north-end Montessori school showed up this week to find the building's doors locked and its principal gone with thousands of dollars in fees and deposits.
The Quebec government has received several calls from angry parents and has asked the Montreal Urban Community police to investigate.
Jenny Mariani said she registered her 2-year-old daughter in March at the school on Beaubien St. near Langelier Blvd. and paid $ 670 in registration fees for September. Later, she forked over $ 100 for a deposit on a uniform.
"(The principal) said he would be sending me forms, but I didn't hear anything," she said in an interview. "I finally made an appointment to see him the week before school started but when I got there, the place was in a shambles."
Her husband, Cosimo Panetta, is furious with the man he says conned dozens of parents into giving him huge amounts of money.
"He told people if they paid for the whole year at once, he'd give them a discount, so some people are out by $ 4,000," Panetta said. "And where are they supposed to take their children now? There are no spots left in daycares.
"This guy is a wanted man."
Parents, including Louise Boisvert, who paid $ 1,400 up front last spring for her 3-year-old son to attend the private school, have tried in vain to get in touch with the principal, Andre Cortellazzi. There was no answer yesterday at his business number.
"It's incredible what he's done," she said, adding she estimates at least 100 parents have been left high and dry.
Boisvert said she decided to enroll her son in the school, which has been operating for about three years, after hearing favourable reports from other parents.
Police have taken several complaints from frustrated parents who showed up at the locked building to find a note on the door saying the principal was having leasing problems and was moving to Amos St. There is no answer at the number the note provides for further information.
"I drove by that (Amos St.) building last night, and it was covered in graffiti," Panetta said. "I looked in the windows and there's nothing there - no chairs, no blinds and nothing to indicate that something is going to happen. It's an abandoned building."
A spokesman for Quebec's Education Department said it had given Cortellazzi a permit to operate his Beaubien St. school but hadn't granted one for his new location on Amos St.
"It's been very difficult to get in touch with him, but we've contacted him today and the case is being reviewed," Rolande Hamel said.
She said it will be up to the parents to go to court to recover their money.
Sept 12 1998 montreal gazette
A Montessori school principal who accepted thousands of dollars from Montreal parents and then left their children out in the cold this week seems to have done the same thing in Laval.
Police are looking into complaints of fraud after about 40 parents who had enrolled their children in the school on de la Concorde Blvd. found its doors locked when classes were to have begun this week.
According to police and parents, the principal of the Montreal school, Andre Cortellazzi, was also in charge of the school in Laval.
Sgt. John Green of Laval police said last night that parents paid between $ 300 and $ 1,000 each for their children to attend the school.
"But when the parents arrived the school was closed and a 'For Rent' sign was up on the building."
Police have not yet decided whether any fraud has been committed, Green said, and are planning to meet with more parents before beginning a formal investigation.
Parents are being asked to attend a meeting with Det. Sgt. Pierre Dion on Monday at Station 2 in Laval, 3225 St. Martin Blvd. E., at 7 p.m.
Montreal Urban Community police are also still waiting before beginning an investigation into the Montreal school closing.
Lt. Jacques Taschereau of the fraud squad said his department has yet to receive the complaints filed by parents. He said he expects them on his desk soon and an investigation could begin then.
Some of the 80 parents who had enrolled their children in the north-end Montreal school, on Beaubien St., are planning to meet with lawyers this week to see whether they can recoup some of the tuition money.
Jenny Mariani, who registered her 2-year-old daughter in the Montreal school in March, said last night she wasn't surprised to hear that Cortellazzi had closed the school in Laval as well.
"One of the parents went to his house to find him and he said that everything was gone - the place was empty," she said. "He's nowhere to be found."
Mariani said other parents she has talked with are coping with the school closing, but not easily.
"Some of the parents are trying to get their children into other schools. But many of them are booked so they're having to stay home from work and look after their children during the day."
There are about a dozen other schools in Montreal that use the Montessori method of teaching but the two run by Cortellazzi were not affiliated with any of them.
sept 16 1998 montreal gazette
Fraud investigators with Laval police have received 31 formal complaints about a Montessori school on de la Concorde Blvd, a spokesman said yesterday.
The complaints allege that almost $ 16,000 was paid in deposits for the private school that was found locked when classes were to have begun last week, Sgt. John Green said.
Meanwhile, fraud investigators with the Montreal Urban Community police are looking into another school run by Andrea Cortellazzi.
One formal complaint has been received against Cortellazzi but meetings later this week with other parents are expected to yield more complaints, fraud investigator Det.-Sgt. Andre Quenneville said yesterday. Some parents have organized a meeting with police for Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the YMCA at 4567 Hochelaga St.
At least a dozen Montreal-area schools use the Montessori teaching method. Only those run by Cortellazzi have been referred to fraud investigators.
Some of the 80 parents who had enroled their children in the north-end-Montreal school, on Beaubien St., said last week that they plan to meet with lawyers to see what can be done to get their money back.
Parents said that school had been operating near the intersection of Beaubien and Langelier Blvd. for several years. When parents arrived last week, they found a note saying that leasing problems had been encountered and directing them to a building on Amos St.
Education-department officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Operators of other Montessori schools have expressed concern that their schools will be confused with those now subject to police scrutiny.
Pradeep Sagar, who runs several Montessori schools, said yesterday that he wants to offer "a discount" to parents who appear to have lost their deposits.
His Kinderville Private School, a bilingual pre-kindergarten to Grade 6 school in Candiac, can absorb another 30 to 40 children, he said. Fees there can reach $ 3,900 a year, Sagar said.