Texas Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against Vancouver, B.C. Family and Business for Alleged Multi-Million-Dollar "Scam"

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Suit claims family-owned business engaged in fraud and theft of more than $8.5 million from prominent Houston couple and went on luxury spending spree, according to law firm Hirsch & Westheimer, P.C.

The Blanchette family needs to do the right thing and give my clients back their money. Their lawyer will have to be a magician to dig them out of this ditch. -- Eric Lipper, Hirsch & Westheimer, P.C.

A Vancouver-area family and their business has allegedly “scammed” more than $8.5 million (USD) from a Houston, TX couple, according to a suit filed in Houston, TX last week. The money represents the couple's entire life savings.

Harris County District Judge Caroline E. Baker (295th civil court, Houston, TX) has granted a temporary restraining order – without notice – against Richmond, B.C. printing company, Blanchette Press, Ltd. and its principal owners, agreeing that they cheated Houston couple Charles C. Hill and Heidi Hanna. The suit (case # 2013-59653; Heidi Hanna v. Peter Kim Blanchette; 281st Judicial District Court of Harris County, TX) plainly describes the Blanchettes as “nothing more than a pack of thieves.”

Joel Blanchette of the Blanchette family allegedly “conned” the Texas couple out of $8.5 million to qualify for high-stakes, invitation-only gambling at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas, NV last year—all the while insisting the money was safe, and returnable at any time Mr. Hill and Ms. Hanna required, according to the suit.

Mr. Blanchette instead removed the entire $8.5 million, the suit alleges, and intentionally misled the couple as to its whereabouts. The Blanchettes – with the five adult sons dubbed the “Gang of Five” in the suit – then purchased real estate, jewelry and other luxury items without the knowledge or consent of Mr. Hill and Ms. Hanna, and may have created a family trust to conceal the money. Their actions, the suit claims, have subsequently robbed Mr. Hill and Ms. Hanna of their “nestegg” and future security.

What’s more: Members of the Blanchette family have not denied the allegations—even when directly confronted by the Houston couple’s attorney, Eric Lipper of the Houston firm Hirsch & Westheimer, P.C. “When they thought I was buying a printing job, they were very friendly,” says Mr. Lipper, referencing a phone call with Kim and Adam Blanchette on Friday, October 4, 2013. “But when they understood the serious nature of the call, I was referred to their lawyer.” Mr. Lipper adds that the Blanchettes actually seemed prepared: “They acted like they were waiting for this kind of call.”

Last week’s ruling means that principals Peter Kim Blanchette, Mary Ellen Blanchette, Adam Blanchette, Matt Blanchette, Joel Blanchette, Aaron Blanchette and Mark Blanchette are forbidden to spend more than $500 without court approval; nor can they sell, mortgage or transfer any assets they accumulated – including a condominium in Vancouver – from the $8.5 million that court documents say the family “scammed” from Mr. Hill and Ms. Hanna under what the court agrees are false pretenses. Additionally, Judge Baker set a court date of October 18, 2013 in Houston, in which all Blanchette family members will be required to attend, as deemed by State of Texas law.

**Note to journalists: Court documents are available for review upon request**

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