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Deyan Dimitrov December 13, 2023 3 min read
Fredericton Lawyer’s Cautionary Tale Reveals the Perils of Gambling Addiction
Yassin Choukri faces three years in prison after gambling away hundreds of thousands of his clients’ funds despite his prestigious and well-paying position
Choukri, who served as the Canadian province of New Brunswick’s deputy attorney general, repented of his actions, admitting his addiction had caused significant financial damage to his clients. The details of his fall from grace reveal the insidious dangers of gambling and how it can strike even wealthy and respected individuals.
A Dramatic Fall From Grace
Choukri was far from what could be described as a vulnerable individual, serving as the chief of staff in former premier Bernard Lord’s office and later becoming deputy attorney general. He continued to serve in high-profile government positions well into the 2010s, later resuming his position as a well-respected lawyer. However, it all came crashing down when his gambling addiction finally caught up with him.
As a lawyer in Fredericton, he held client funds in trust accounts. However, rising credit card debt caused him to withdraw hundreds of thousands to cover his gambling expenses, as he lost staggering amounts in games of poker at Casino New Brunswick in Moncton. As the funds in the trust accounts finally ran out in 2016, Choukri fled the province.
Authorities found the suspect in Mississauga, Ontario, where he had launched a support group for victims of gambling addiction, hoping to make up for his past actions. The prosecution also revealed that Choukri had run out of funds and had, at one point, contemplated suicide. He is now living with his mother, awaiting the court’s decision.
Choukri Will Likely Serve Time in Prison
Crown prosecutor Vicky Doucette noted that the casino could not return the funds and that Choukri carried the entire blame for the situation. However, his financial status meant he could not reimburse his victims, which is why Doucette and defense lawyer Gilles Lemieux agreed that a three-year prison sentence would be sufficient punishment.
It is a cautionary tale. This was a gambling addiction. It shows how high someone can be and how low they can fall.Crown prosecutor Vicky Doucette
Although the law society’s compensation fund covered some of the losses Choukri caused, his victims still suffered because of his actions, as several individuals had trusted the ex-lawyer with money from injury settlements. Choukri appeared remorseful, agreeing that his actions had been inexcusable and regretting the damage and distress he had caused.
I caused them troubles, embarrassment, delays, and financial losses. And I am really disappointed in myself. I deeply regret all the wrongs that I have caused.Yassin Choukri
This recent case perfectly highlights how nobody is safe from gambling addiction. A once respected and successful lawyer and member of the government, Choukri’s encounter with gambling was even more damaging to him than to his victims. As the court prepares to issue its final decision on 19 December, Choukri’s tale should highlight the importance of proper regulations and responsible gambling measures to prevent such cases.