He used charm, others’ personal tragedies and fake celebrity endorsements. How Christopher LaVoie cast his reality show and reeled in successful entrepreneurs. How the show failed to create a successful business. And how he now faces criminal charges, including theft.
A year after launching his reality show, which was to be broadcast on the French channel Canal+, Christopher LaVoie could be seen on a recent afternoon on a street corner in downtown Toronto, smoking a cigarette and making fun of the way he sometimes looks.
As he walked with a companion around the city, LaVoie took aim at the city’s current housing boom.
“I just need something with a view, I wish Toronto would go back to the time when we had only two or three towers,” he said, brandishing a cigarette, a matchstick, a pipe and a plastic jar of red paint. “The skyline is so nice.”
LaVoie’s “smoke shop” looked a lot like the one that housed the fictional city council member on the back of his iPhone.
LaVoie, 38, is a former stand-up comic, a self-described “trendy business guy,” who’s been accused of defrauding homeowners through a marketing scheme that led to his arrest and later the dropping of a civil lawsuit brought against him.
Now the reality show and a series of lawsuits are putting him on trial in a city court facing three counts of fraud, four counts of larceny and two counts of criminal breach of trust.
At a preliminary hearing in July, LaVoie’s lawyer, Robert Rabinovitch, asked to use the courtroom as a site for a pop-up art gallery, and the judge allowed it.
“While the defendant is under a great amount of stress and anxiety, we’re happy to be given this opportunity to do something