Former New Brunswick Deputy AG Lost $500,000 Of Clients’ Funds Gambling

Written By Matthew Lomon on December 14, 2023
Man with holding cards with handcuffs on his wrist in front of a flag of New Brunswick. The province's former deputy AG lost $500,000 of clients' funds gambling.

The fate of Yassin Choukri, the former Deputy Attorney General of New Brunswick who gambled away nearly $500,000 of his clients’ money, appears all but decided after his sentencing hearing late last week.

Choukri stood before a Moncton judge on Dec. 8. Seven years after fleeing the province to cover for his gambling addiction, he delivered a nearly 20-minute apology for his actions.

Despite the repentance, the 55-year-old is staring down a three-year prison term after pleading guilty earlier this year to stealing $481,148 from his former clients while working as a private lawyer between 2014 and 2016.

Afterward, when speaking with reporters, Crown prosecutor Vicky Doucette called the situation a ‘profound fall from grace.’

“It is a cautionary tale,” Doucette said to CBC News. “This was a gambling addiction. It shows how high someone can be and how low they can fall. He is now a man that lives with his mother.”

Doucette continued by saying there is no prospect Choukri can repay the money, noting all the funds now belong to the casinos.

He primarily gambled at Casino New Brunswick in Moncton.

Former deputy AG’s gambling addiction developed after leaving office

Choukri’s career trajectory plummeted from promise to infamy about half a decade after leaving government.

Once a law partner of former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord, Choukri also served as Lord’s chief of staff. Not long after, in 2003, Choukri assumed the role of New Brunswick’s deputy attorney general. He held the position for three years before leaving in 2006 when Lord’s provincial re-election bid failed.

In 2010, he was appointed the public intervener for hearings before the Energy and Utilities Board.

However, it was upon returning to the private sector where prosecutors say he incurred considerable losses as a result of a rampant gambling addiction.

To cover for such losses and subsequent credit card debt, Choukri began funnelling his clients’ funds held in trust accounts. This was done gradually so as not to arouse suspicion, usually coming in instalments of several thousand dollars.

According to the crown, most of the stolen money went towards repaying cash advances from Casino New Brunswick.

Choukri took drastic measures to cope with unrestrained problem

The jig was finally up for Choukri in September 2016. After two cheques drawn from the trust account bounced on Sept. 27, 2016, he vanished two days later.

Ultimately, Choukri fled to Fredericton without notifying his clients.

The ex-AG managed to stay on the lamb for four years before being tracked down in Mississauga, ON in 2020. At the time of his capture, Choukri had started a program for people struggling with gambling addiction.

Perhaps preaching the importance of responsible gambling in Canada was his way of atoning for his wrongs. Unfortunately, regardless of the reason, the gesture came far too late.

The judge will issue his official sentencing decision in the Choukri case on Dec. 19.

Photo by PlayCanada
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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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