Tragic Passing of Canadian Billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman (Apotex)

Updated on May 24, 2019

One of the biggest shocks of 2017 was news of the deaths of Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey Sherman. They were discovered dead at their home on December 15, 2017. Police issued a brief statement saying that the couple both died from "ligature neck compression," but the department refused to comment further. The statement said homicide detectives have taken the lead on investigating the deaths, which have been classified as "suspicious."

Barry (born Bernard) Sherman founded Apotex, a Canadian pharmaceutical corporation in 1974. The company is the largest producer of generic drugs in Canada, with sales exceeding C$1 billion a year.

Apotex says that Mr. Sherman hadn’t been involved in day-to-day operations since he stepped down as chief executive officer five years ago.

With an estimated net worth of US$3.2 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes, Sherman was the 12th-wealthiest Canadian. Another publication, Canadian Business, stated his fortune at $4.77 billion (CAD), ranking him the 15th richest in Canada.

Despite an ongoing Toronto police investigation into the deaths, the couple’s family has hired a former homicide detective to look into the case. Citing police sources, multiple media outlets reported that investigators were working on the theory that the Shermans died in a murder-suicide. The couple’s family rejects that theory and has hired their own private investigator to look into the case. Brian Greenspan, the family’s lawyer, confirmed that former Toronto police detective Thomas Klatt has been hired to conduct a separate investigation. Mr. Greenspan says the Toronto Police Service’s early statements about the case invited the public to wrongly infer that the couple’s deaths were the result of a murder-suicide.

The real estate agent who had been helping to sell the mansion found the bodies. The Shermans had just put their house on Old Colony Road up for sale for $6.9-million.

A Toronto police source said the bodies were found at the edge of their basement pool, hanging from a railing that surrounded the pool. Investigators are working on the theory that Mr. Sherman killed his wife, hung her body and then hanged himself at the pool's edge, the source said.

Police, firefighters and paramedics responded to a 911 call for a medical emergency at 11:44 a.m., Constable Hopkinson said. But he would not say who made the call. He said the pair were pronounced dead at the scene.

There was no sign of forced entry to the home. There was no note left behind to explain what had happened.

Organizers estimated 6,000 people attended the December 21st memorial service at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory were also among those gathered.

A Wall Street Journal article describes the personality of the couple.

Barry Sherman was stiff in social settings and suffered from what he called chronic lethargy and fatigue. He wrote in a memoir that life had no meaning or purpose. When Barry was 10, his father died of a heart attack. “I do not recall feeling any great sense of loss upon my father’s death,” he wrote.

“He would correct your grammar no matter who you were,” Jack Kay, a colleague, said at a memorial service. “He pretty well thought he was smarter than everyone else, and he wasn’t wrong about that.”

Unlike her husband, Honey Sherman was known for her sunny disposition. She helped steer the couple’s social and philanthropic activities.

Canadian Gov. Gen. Julie Payette has announced that Dr. Sherman has been appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. He is awarded the distinction for "his entrepreneurship in the pharmaceutical industry and for his unwavering support and commitment to education and charitable causes."

The Order of Canada advisory council, which decides who gets the award, granted it to him at their November meeting. Payette signed the appointment prior to his death.

A Rideau Hall spokeswoman says a family member can stand in for Sherman at the investiture ceremony, likely some time in 2018.

Update on investigation

It’s double murder, not murder-suicide. Barry and Honey Sherman were killed in what looks like a professional, contract killing. That’s the conclusion of a variety of experts who have been hired by the family to probe the case.

Here’s the new information: There are markings on the Shermans’ wrists, an indication that at some point their hands were tied together, though no rope or other ties were found near the bodies. Toxicology tests on their bodies reveal no sign of drugs that would have contributed to their deaths. Men’s leather belts found around their necks were the cause of the “ligature compression” that killed them. A top forensic pathologist who did a second autopsy determined this was a double homicide, barring any new information that surfaces.

Meanwhile, the Toronto police would not provide any new information or comment on the findings of the family and maintain their classification of the deaths as “suspicious.”

People providing information for this story are not identified as they were not authorized to discuss the case.

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Police news conference

In a news conference on January 26, 2018 Toronto police announced they are investigating the deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman as a targeted double homicide.

Toronto Police Det.-Sgt. Susan Gomes, the officer in charge of the case, updated reporters in a short briefing.

“We believe now, through six weeks’ work and review, that we have sufficient evidence to describe this as a double homicide investigation and that both Honey and Barry Sherman were in fact targeted,” Gomes said.

A realtor’s “lock box,” which gave access to agents and their clients viewing Barry and Honey Sherman’s house, has expanded the pool of “persons of interest” in what is now officially a double murder investigation.

In answering a reporter’s question, she confirmed that “we have that list” of anyone who gained entry to the Old Colony Road home in North Toronto, which was for sale, via the lock box.

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Barry Sherman allegedly duped by convicted fraudster

On the day he was last seen alive, Barry Sherman's lawyers filed documents in court supporting a lawsuit against a convicted fraudster who had allegedly duped the billionaire philanthropist out of a $150,000 investment, Canadian television newsmagazine CBC News: The Fifth Estate has learned.

Ontario Superior Court documents show Sherman intended to invest in an app called Trivia For Good, which described itself as a "mobile-trivia app that offers huge cash prizes."

Sherman launched his lawsuit in May 2017 against Shaun Rootenberg and other parties. The lawsuit alleged "a fraudulent scheme" had cheated Sherman out of his investment.

Court documents show that Rootenberg, a previously convicted fraudster also known as Shaun Rothberg, came up with the Trivia For Good concept. The idea was to make money by selling advertising displayed on the app.

Sherman was well known for being litigious in his business dealings. The Rootenberg lawsuit was one of hundreds the billionaire or Apotex had filed in the course of his business career.

It was in the final week of his life that Sherman stepped up his legal efforts to recover the $150,000 he said he had lost, a relatively small amount for a man reportedly worth nearly $5 billion. Still, on Dec. 13 his lawyers filed an aggressive motion to the court — with the goal of moving the case more promptly to trial.

Emails filed in court show Sherman was introduced to the investment opportunity through his longtime friend Myron Gottlieb.

Those emails show correspondence between Sherman's holding company, Sherfam Inc., Gottlieb and Shaun Rootenberg.

Gottlieb emailed officials at Sherfam Inc. in August 2015 to thank them for the promised $150,000 investment.

"You advised that Barry Sherman will purchase 750,000 units," Gottlieb wrote on Aug. 19, 2015.

Gottlieb then provided instructions for how Sherman's $150,000 should be wired to the trivia company's bank account. But according to the allegations filed in court, Rootenberg was a participant in a scheme "to defraud" Sherman and divert the funds partly for his own benefit.

According to the court documents, Gottlieb, who is not named in the Sherman lawsuit, met Rootenberg in 2012 when they were both serving time in prison for fraud.

Gottlieb was convicted along with Livent co-founder Garth Drabinsky in 2009 for defrauding their now-defunct musical production company Livent Inc.

In an email to The Fifth Estate, Gottlieb noted, "I am not a party to the action commenced by Barry Sherman." He declined further comment except to say he was "privileged to be a friend of Barry and Honey Sherman."

Rootenberg was arrested again June 2017 on criminal charges. Toronto Police allege Rootenberg defrauded two women with whom he had intimate relationships. The Fifth Estate has learned that Barry Sherman provided a statement to police in the criminal case against Rootenberg.

Rootenberg was held at Toronto South Detention Centre after his arrest. He was released on bail earlier in January 2018. CBC News: The Fifth Estate was unable to reach Rootenberg for comment after leaving an email and phone message.

In his statement of defence filed in October 2017, Rootenberg said he "disputes the claim … that he contributed to the loss" and requested that the lawsuit be "dismissed in its entirety."

Barry Sherman’s cousin makes explosive allegations

A cousin of Barry Sherman, who recently lost a $1-billion court battle with the late billionaire, says he believes Sherman killed his wife and then himself, alleging that he was asked by Sherman twice in the 1990s to make arrangements to kill his wife Honey.

Kerry Winter made the explosive allegations in two separate interviews with the Toronto Star and the Daily Mail TV of the UK.

Winter, along with his siblings, has been locked in a prolonged court battle with Sherman over their late father’s former company. He says the founder of generic drug giant Apotex had a “loose bolt” and hated his wife but did not want her to take half his money in a divorce.

“There was a time I met Barry in his office and out of the blue he said, ‘You know, sometimes I want to kill that bitch.’ And he says, ‘Can you do it?’” Winter told Daily Mail TV.

“And I said, ‘Oh come on Barry, you’re not going to take out the mother of your kids.’ He says, ‘Why not?’ And he was dead serious.”

Winter, who admits to drug use and association with a bad crowd at that time but says he is now clean, claims he called a friend about Sherman’s request.

“And he said, ‘The body will go missing. There’s not going to be a bullet to the back of the head or a car exploding. She’s going to go missing.’…. if we push this button, there’s no going back.’”

Winter alleges Sherman backed off on his plan and when asked by the Star if he believed the comments Sherman allegedly made in the 90’s about this wife held true in 2017, he said, “They could have kissed and made up.”

But he still thinks that Sherman finally did kill his wife and then “freaked out.”

Sherman had been battling Winter and his siblings over a drug company he bought and sold that had been founded by his uncle. The cousins argued they were entitled to almost $1 billion in compensation but a judge ruled against them in September, later ordering the plaintiffs to pay Sherman $300,000 in legal costs. The siblings were appealing the ruling.

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A year later, police still struggling to solve deaths of Honey and Barry Sherman

December 2018

Almost a year after billionaire couple Honey and Barry Sherman were found dead in their Toronto mansion, police are still struggling to solve the mystery.

The family put together a team of highly experienced former homicide detectives and forensic experts to launch their own parallel investigation. The Shermans' four children have remained virtually silent about the case, declining all interview requests.

In October 2018, the team announced a reward of up to $10 million for information that would help solve the mystery.

Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan, who is leading the team of private investigators, called the killings "deliberate" and that the bodies were "staged" in an attempt to fool police.

Greenspan also accused police of mishandling the investigation by overlooking about 25 palm prints and fingerprints the private investigators found in the home.

"The failure to follow simple procedures regarding print elimination fell below the best-practice standards," he said.

The lawyer also complained police took too long to interview some of the people who were in the home when the bodies were discovered.

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders shot back, suggesting Greenspan is in no position to know what evidence police have collected.

"If you have an opinion on it, you're entitled to that opinion," Saunders said of Greenspan. "We don't deal with opinions. We deal with facts."

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Barry and Honey Sherman’s neighbours cite mysterious 911 call, visitor on day before billionaires found dead

May 2019

Toronto Police were investigating a mysterious 911 call down the street from Barry and Honey Sherman's home at the same time as the Apotex founder and his wife lay dead or dying, a Star investigation reveals.

The Shermans lived at 50 Old Colony Rd. They were last seen alive on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Their bodies were discovered two days later. No official time of death has been released but sources close to the case have said it is believed the Shermans died late on Wednesday or early Thursday morning. Police are investigating the case as a targeted double homicide.

On the Thursday morning at 9:45 a.m., a full day before the Sherman bodies were discovered, homeowners down the road from the Shermans answered a knock on their door. The Star has agreed not to identify the homeowners or their exact address. They live roughly 10 houses away on Old Colony.

The man at the door was a uniformed police officer asking if someone in their home had made a 911 call. The homeowners said no. The officer shared few details, but said police believed it came from the homeowners' house, but did not say if the call had come from a cellular phone or a landline. The officer did not say what time the call came in.

The next day, when news surfaced late in the afternoon of the Shermans' bodies being discovered, one of the homeowners happened to be driving near Toronto Police Services 33 Division (the local division that was at the time investigating the Shermans' deaths before the homicide unit took over). The homeowner went in to make a report, wanting to alert them to the fact a police officer had been on Old Colony Rd. the day before.

"It was just too much of a coincidence and I thought police should know," the homeowner told the Star. That Friday night at the police division, the homeowner was told by police that "maybe some wires were crossed" and that is why it appeared a 911 call had been made.

Questions & Answers


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      • RTalloni profile image


        20 months ago from the short journey

        How sad. Hopefully the family will have the answers they seek before long.


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