RCMP charge three former high ranking members of the OPPA

Police corruption is a form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, or career advancement for officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest. One common form of police corruption is soliciting or accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities. Another example is police officers flouting the police code of conduct in order to secure convictions of suspects — for example, through the use of falsified evidence.

OPP union bosses secretly diverted union money to buy privat

Postby Thomas » Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:16 pm

OPP union bosses secretly diverted union money to buy private travel business, fraud trial hears

TORONTO — Three former senior executives of the union representing Ontario Provincial Police officers, along with a Toronto lawyer and a business partner, bought a travel agency and used a consulting firm to hide their scheme to defraud the police union, court heard.

Three police union bosses — James Christie, the president and chief executive officer; Karl Walsh, the chief administrative officer; and Martin Bain, the vice-president and a board of director, at the time — along with Andrew McKay, a lawyer who often represented police officers, and businessman Francis Chantiam bought a travel agency together in 2014, Crown prosecutor David Friesen told the jury on the opening day of the fraud trial.

The union officials secretly used funds from the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) to help pay for their share of the travel firm and then used their senior positions in the police union to give their firm the OPPA’s travel business, Friesen told the jury.

And while the business was operating, “all five accused men worked together to hide or conceal the truth about what they were doing.”

There was one other part owner of the travel agency, court heard. Klara Kozak was brought into the agency to be the public face of the travel firm, the jury heard, and she was called to the stand as the prosecution’s first witness.

Kozak told the jury about a meeting she had with the accused men in the boardroom of the OPPA’s headquarters in Barrie. She arrived with Chantiam in a limousine.

She made a presentation and there were discussions about the travel of the OPPA and potential profit, she said.

“Who was expected to benefit,” Friesen asked her.

“The owners — all the people in the room,” she said and then named each of the accused men.

The jury was told a paper trail shows that Kozak was given only a small share of the company but appeared to own it all by placing the accused men’s shares in trust.

“The idea was that I would be the person running the agency, managing it, and they would be in the background,” she testified.

The trust agreements are private documents, masking the identities of the other owners. The jury was shown an email from Chantiam saying the agreements would “protect you and the boys as trust agreements are not public.”

Kozak said the agency’s business model was built on the company having “a captive market of police officers,” who get a lot of vacation time, and also all of the corporate travel business of the OPPA.

The agency, she said, “had a direct line to the police officers” because a big part of the ownership group were police union executives.

The travel agency ownership was comprised of 196 shares. Under the ownership deal, court heard, Walsh was beneficial owner of 46 of those shares, Chantiam and McKay 40 shares each, and Christie and Bain 26 shares each.

That left 18 shares for Kozak.

After buying the travel agency, Walsh notified the OPPA that the union would no longer use Flight Centre for its travel purchases, and instructed staff to instead book through Kozak at the new agency, branded First Response Travel Group, court heard.

But, Friesen said, the union wasn’t told the new firm was owned by three union bosses.

“I expect the members of the board will testify that this is a conflict of interest, which should have been brought to their attention,” Friesen told jurors in his opening address.

Further, Friesen told the jury, they can expect to hear evidence in the coming weeks that the three union executives used some of the union’s money to help them pay for their personal shares.

Friesen said each of them had $10,000 knocked off what they personally had to pay. That shortfall was made up for, the Crown said, through a contract with PIN Consulting Group, incorporated by McKay.

The OPPA entered into a consulting agreement with PIN Consulting for the union to pay $5,000 each month to PIN for a variety of consulting advice.

Evidence is expected to show that Walsh, Christie and Bain used the OPPA funds paid to PIN to cover a portion of the cost of their shares in the travel company.

Bank records for Christie, Walsh and Bain were shown in court showing withdrawals, each being $10,000 less than the purchase price for their shares. An email was also shown, purportedly from Christie, saying “the plan was predicated” on the association paying PIN the equivalent amount of $30,000.

Another email, purportedly from Walsh, confirmed “we will enter” into the agreement with PIN to provide roughly $30,000 of the required amount to buy the shares.

All five men have pleaded not guilty to fraud over $5,000. The OPPA represents about 10,000 officers and civilians working for the Ontario Provincial Police.

The trail is scheduled to last several weeks.

https://nationalpost.com/news/opp-union ... rial-hears
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Re: RCMP charge three former high ranking members of the OPP

Postby Thomas » Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:17 pm

Three Simcoe County residents, who were top officials of the Ontario Provincial Police officers’ union, were among five people who secretly bought a travel agency in a deal partially financed with union funds, and then directed union business to it, a Toronto jury was told Tuesday.

“All five accused men worked together to hide or conceal the truth about what they were doing,” prosecutor David Friesen said during his opening remarks at the Superior Court fraud trial.

The Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) has about 10,000 dues-paying members, including both uniformed police officers and civilian employees. The OPPA uses the money it collects to run its operations, including representing members in collective bargaining.

Friesen said evidence will show that the five men purchased a Kitchener travel company in 2014, and that James Christie of Midland, Karl Walsh of Bradford West Gwillimbury and Martin Bain, formerly of Oro-Medonte, used OPPA funds to help pay for their shares.

Christie was the OPPA’s chief executive officer and president, while Walsh was the union’s chief administrative officer and Bain was a vice-president and member of the board.

Walsh ran unsuccessfully as Liberal candidate in Barrie in the 2011 provincial election.

The three men worked out of the OPPA Barrie headquarters on Ferris Lane, which was raided by the RCMP in March, 2015.

Andy McKay, a lawyer who was often hired by the OPPA to represent its members, and Francis Chantiam, a Waterloo businessperson with travel industry experience, also went in on the deal to buy the Leximco travel agency. It was renamed First Response Travel Group because the intent was to target the leisure travel business of police officers and other first responders, the jury heard.

Walsh then terminated Flight Centre as the OPPA’s corporate travel provider and replaced it with First Response Travel Group, the court was told.

Several OPPA board members are expected to testify the trio did not inform the union’s board about the purchase.

“Karl Walsh, James Christie and Martin Bain did not disclose that they owned part of Leximco/First Response Travel,” Friesen said. “I expect the board members will testify that this ownership was a conflict of interest.”

On two large screens set up in court, jurors were shown a First Response Travel Group advertisement published in “Beyond the Badge,” the OPPA’s magazine.

The Crown’s first witness Sept. 24 was Klara Kozak, a Kitchener businessperson who was hired to run the agency’s day-to-day operations. The agency’s previous owner transferred 196 shares of Leximco to Kozak, but she testified Tuesday that she actually owned only 18 shares and held the rest in trust for the five accused.

Friesen cited an email that Chantiam sent to Walsh on May 21, 2014, which said the arrangement with Kozak would “protect you and the boys as trust agreements are not public.”

During his opening address, Friesen said the alleged fraud also involves PIN Consulting Group, a company owned by McKay that entered into a consulting contract with the OPPA. The agreement required the OPPA to pay $5,000 a month for services including real estate investments and vacation property opportunities.

The evidence will show that Walsh, Christie and Bain used the $5,000 payments from the OPPA to PIN Consulting Group to cover the cost of their shares of Leximco, Friesen said.

The purchase agreement called for each of the five accused to contribute $1,000 per share that they owned. According to the agreement, there were 196 shares in Leximco.

Walsh, Christie and Bain, who owned 98 shares, required a contribution of $98,000, Friesen said, but evidence will show together they contributed only $68,000 of their personal funds.

“You will see evidence in this trial that the remaining $30,000 came from money that the OPPA was paying to PIN Consulting Group Inc. every month,” he said.

OPPA board members are also expected to testify they had no idea that the consulting services agreement signed by McKay and Walsh was being used to provide $30,000 of the $98,000 to pay for those shares, the Crown attorney said.

The trial is expected to hear from nine witnesses over several weeks.

— with files from Rick Vanderlinde

— Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy

https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/96151 ... rown-says/
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Trial begins for former OPP association brass charged with f

Postby Thomas » Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:19 pm

Trial begins for former OPP association brass charged with fraud

Crown prosecutors say that the former president, vice president and chief administration officer of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) used their "high ranking positions" to direct travel away from a long-standing travel agency to one of their own.

Speaking in court on Tuesday, Crown Prosecutor David Friesen told the jury that in 2014, five men—including the OPPA members—bought a travel agency and then allegedly directed all OPPA travel to their own business First Response Travel Group. This was done without the knowledge of the OPPA board, Friesen said.

"All five worked together to hide the truth of what they were doing,” he said.


The Crown also alleges former police officer turned defence lawyer Andrew McKay set up a consulting company that was paid $5,000 monthly by the OPPA. The jury heard the money paid to the consulting company helped the three OPPA executives pay for their shares in the new travel agency.

Karl Walsh, James Christie and Martin Bain, Andrew McKay and Francis Chantiam are all facing charges of fraud over $5,000.

The OPPA represents 10,000 OPP officers and civilians on the force.

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/trial-begins ... -1.4608186
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Former Little Current resident goes to trial in OPP union ca

Postby Thomas » Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:24 pm

ORILLIA – Jury selection for the trial of former Little Current resident Martin Bain on charges stemming from an RCMP raid on the offices of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) began at the Ontario Superior Court in Orillia on September 17.

Three senior members of the OPPA, Karl Walsh of Bradford West Gwillimbury, James Christie of Midland and Martin Bain of Oro-Medonte (formerly of Little Current) were scheduled to stand trial on September 9, 2019 in Ontario Superior Court in Orillia.

Mr. Bain served as an OPP officer in Little Current for a number of years.

Mr. Christie was OPPA president, while Mr. Bain was vice-president and Mr. Walsh was chief administrative officer when the RCMP, utilizing an affidavit from union whistleblowers to obtain a warrant, searched the Ferris Lane OPPA offices on March 6, 2015. Nearly a year and a half later (June 16, 2016) the RCMP filed charges against the three of theft, breach of trust, fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime. A 2015 filed affidavit lists allegations of suspicious financial transactions including the purchase of a condominium in the Bahamas and a $100,000 wire transfer to the Cayman Islands for a “high risk” investment.

The RCMP allege that a sophisticated network of schemes had been set up involving secretly owned companies and offshore investments to defraud union members.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

The original search warrant was ordered sealed by an Ontario Superior Court judge and details were not available to the public.

All three men resigned from their positions with the OPPA in 2015 following news that the RCMP financial crime and anti-corruption unit had opened an investigation.

The trial is expected to last several weeks and hear upwards of nine witnesses.

https://www.manitoulin.ca/former-little ... nion-case/
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Ontario police union executives' travel agency 'unorthodox,'

Postby Thomas » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:16 pm

Ontario police union executives' travel agency 'unorthodox,' not criminal, lawyer tells fraud trial

'They acted with the best of intentions. Their unorthodox plan could have been better executed and documented. Had they done so, we wouldn’t be here'

TORONTO — A financial deal at the heart of criminal charges against former senior executives of the union representing Ontario Provincial Police officers, along with a Toronto lawyer and a business partner, was described as a good but unorthodox idea to help union members.

“This case is about a group of good people who had a great idea that would provide real benefits to the Ontario Provincial Police Association and its members,” David Humphrey, lawyer for Andrew McKay, a lawyer who often represented police officers, told the jury.

“They acted with the best of intentions,” Humphrey said. “Their unorthodox plan could have been better executed and documented. Had they done so, we wouldn’t be here.”

On Tuesday, lawyers for the five accused men charged with fraud over $5,000, began laying out their version of the evidence heard over seven weeks of hearings in their closing arguments.

“They did this unorthodox thing,” said Paul Cooper, lawyer for Karl Walsh, who was the chief administrative officer of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) at the time of the arrests in 2016. “They used their own money as a placeholder.”

Charged alongside McKay and Walsh are James Christie, the president and chief executive officer of the union at the time; Martin Bain, vice-president at the time; and businessman Francis Chantiam, who together bought a travel agency in 2014,

Both lawyers said the men on trial worked to stress test and perfect an idea for a travel agency to be used by the OPPA, its members and other first responders. They used their own money as an expediency before taking the pitch to the OPPA board.

If members and staff hadn’t gone to the RCMP about concerns and police hadn’t raided their homes and offices and arrested them, the board would have been presented with a full business plan and ownership of the travel agency would have been turned over to the OPPA’s control, court was told.

The description of the deal presented by members of the defence team contrasts with the prosecution’s portrayal of a scheme by police union brass and associates to secretly use funds from the OPPA to help pay for their personal ownership in the travel firm and use their positions in the union to give their firm the OPPA’s travel business.

The Crown alleged the OPPA signed a consulting contract to McKay and that a portion of the union’s payments to him — the first $30,000 — were secretly used to subsidize the purchase price of the travel agency by the others. The nature of their relationship was then concealed from the OPPA board of directors.

“Mr. McKay provided many valuable services” for his contract, Humphrey said. It was not, he told the jury “a dishonest kickback” to pals in the police union executive offices.

Where the Crown pointed to money withdrawn from McKay’s consulting company account as payments to subsidize the share price for the others, McKay told the jury he used the money to pay his income tax. And he was willing to help subsidize the travel agency, if necessary, to get it up and running.

Cooper, similarly, disputed the Crown’s allegations, against Walsh and co-accused, saying his client was a dedicated man who worked to help build a strong police union. Not everything Walsh and his colleagues did was popular with all members.

“Mr. Walsh, Mr. Christie, and Mr. Bain weren’t afraid to be unorthodox,” said Cooper. “They did things differently than their predecessors.”

“They were smart, but they weren’t businessmen.”

He said the guts of the financial deal were confidential, not secret, and would have been revealed in time to the board when it was “ready for primetime.”

Ownership of the now shuttered Leximco Ltd., operating as First Response Travel Group, was comprised of 196 shares.

Under the ownership deal, court heard, Walsh was beneficial owner of 46 of those shares, Chantiam and McKay 40 shares each, and Christie and Bain 26 shares each. The last 18 shares were for Klara Kozak, who was brought in to be the public face and owner of record of the travel firm.

Lawyers representing the other accused men are scheduled to present their closing arguments, followed by the Crown’s closing.

The OPPA represents about 10,000 officers and civilians working for the Ontario Provincial Police.

https://nationalpost.com/news/ontario-p ... raud-trial
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Trial continues for trio charged in OPP union executive frau

Postby Thomas » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:18 pm

Trial continues for trio charged in OPP union executive fraud

ORILLIA – The trial of former Little Current resident Martin Bain and two other former senior executive members of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) continued at the Ontario Superior Court in Orillia on Tuesday, November 5 with all three accused vehemently denying the charges. Mr. Bain served as an OPP officer in Little Current for a number of years.

The three senior members of the OPPA, Karl Walsh of Bradford West Gwillimbury, James Christie of Midland and Mr. Bain, now of Oro-Medonte and formerly of Little Current are standing trial in Ontario Superior Court in Orillia.

A 2015 filed affidavit lists allegations of suspicious financial transactions including the purchase of a condominium in the Bahamas and a $100,000 wire transfer to the Cayman Islands for a “high risk” investment.

The defendants maintain that, while “unorthodox,” their purchase of a travel agency five years ago (allegedly financed partially with union funds) was for the benefit of the membership. “We were looking forward to it coming to fruition,” stated Mr. Bain during his testimony before the jury.

The prosecution has alleged that the trio tried to hide the purchase from other union board members, using their high-ranking positions to drive union business to the travel agency. Co-accused lawyer Andy McKay and businessman Francis Chantiam also bought shares in the travel agency at the heart of contention. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

During his testimony, Mr. Christie asserted that the OPPA had become the best in the province, having negotiated positive contracts and pension benefits for their 10,000 members, but asserted that there was a “gap in the complete package” stemming from a lack of a travel service offering good rates for both corporate and personal travel for not only the OPPA members and their families, but all first responders. Mr. Christie went on to say that it “made perfect sense.”

The trio denied any attempt to conceal anything from the board, maintaining that they made the purchase on behalf of the OPPA, using in part their own funds which they anticipated being refunded once they had the approval of the full board. Both Mr. Christie and Mr. Bain maintained that they intended to present the plan to the full board in the spring once all due diligence was completed.

Prosecutor Robert Hubbard questioned Mr. Christie over a 2014 text indicating that a return was not anticipated before the next two to five years. Mr. Christie’s reply was that “it means what it says.”

Crown witness Klara Kozak, a third partner who was hired to run the agency, claimed in her testimony that Mr. Christie had suggested that the purchase should be kept “to ourselves.” Mr. Christie denied that that conversation took place.

Challenged that the purchase would have been a tough sell to the rest of the board, Mr. Christie maintained that the three of the executives were the main executive decision makers for the board. Despite there being five other members of the board, Mr. Christie pointed out that this was how they had managed “other successful ventures” on behalf of the OPPA.

Mr. Bain and Mr. Christie characterized themselves as “out of the box thinkers” and while their methods might have seemed unorthodox and unconventional, they maintained their actions were above board and that there was no attempt at deception.

The former union officials also described the impact the arrests had on their lives. Mr. Bain recalled the terror of facing the barrels of numerous guns when uniformed officers arrived at his home in 2015 bearing a search warrant.

https://www.manitoulin.ca/trial-continu ... ive-fraud/
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Jury begins deliberations in fraud trial of former OPP union

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:22 pm

Jury begins deliberations in fraud trial of former OPP union executives

Jury deliberations have begun in the fraud trial of five men, including three former senior executives of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, a lawyer and prominent businessman.

After a 12-week trial, Superior Court Justice Kenneth Campbell concluded his three-and-a-half-day charge to the jury just after 4 p.m. Monday. The central issue in the case is the purchase, by the accused, of a travel agency in 2014 that they all say was done on behalf of the union’s 10,000 members. Prosecutors alleged the purchase was orchestrated, and concealed, for personal gain.

The RCMP laid fraud charges against James Christie, the president and CEO of the OPPA, Karl Walsh, the association’s chief administration officer, and vice-president Martin Bain in March 2015. Former Toronto police officer-turned-lawyer Andy McKay, and businessman Francis Chantiam were also charged and are allegedly parties to the offence.

In April 2014, the five men together planned to buy a travel company called Leximco, counting on the OPPA’s “captive market” which included corporate travel, event planning and leisure travel. The agency was rechristened and marketed as First Response Travel Group to OPPA members and other first responders.

But prosecutors Robert Hubbard and David Friesen argued the transaction was fraudulent because the three OPPA executives used their own money to finance the purchase, subsidized, in part, with a $30,000 kickback from an OPPA contract with McKay’s consulting firm.

“It is simply unbelievable that Mr. Walsh, Mr. Christie and Mr. Bain would use $68,000 of their personal funds to make an investment on behalf of the OPPA,” the Crown attorneys wrote in a summary of evidence provided to the court.

“Personal funds are used to make personal investments. The OPPA is not a charity. It has lots of money. It has thousands of members who all pay dues. It has millions of dollars of investments. It has big surpluses. The OPPA did not need a $68,000 handout.”

The trio also worked to keep the purchase hidden from other board members, as demonstrated by their switching to personal email accounts when discussing the purchase, the prosecution argued. They also asked jurors to consider why there was no documentation, or trust agreement, showing Bain, Christie and Walsh were holding their shares on behalf of the OPPA.

But defence lawyers for the accused men echoed their clients’ testimony. There was no “alleged fraud.” They committed no crimes, nor did any act dishonestly. While the purchase of a travel agency was admittedly “unorthodox,” it was entirely designed to ultimately benefit the membership, they argued.

Bain, Christie and Walsh were intensely loyal to the OPPA, worked tirelessly for the organization and were doing as they’d done in the past: trying to secure benefits for members. The three were expected to go out and develop business opportunities to bring to the rest of the board — and they had a record of success doing so, the lawyers argued.

https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/97392 ... xecutives/
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Jury begins deliberations in fraud trial of former OPP union

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:36 pm

Jury begins deliberations in fraud trial of former OPP union executives

Jury deliberations have begun in the fraud trial of five men, including three former senior executives of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, a lawyer and prominent businessman.

After a 12-week trial, Superior Court Justice Kenneth Campbell concluded his three-and-a-half-day charge to the jury just after 4 p.m. Monday. The central issue in the case is the purchase, by the accused, of a travel agency in 2014 that they all say was done on behalf of the union’s 10,000 members. Prosecutors alleged the purchase was orchestrated, and concealed, for personal gain.

The RCMP laid fraud charges against James Christie, the president and CEO of the OPPA, Karl Walsh, the association’s chief administration officer, and vice-president Martin Bain in March 2015. Former Toronto police officer-turned-lawyer Andy McKay, and businessman Francis Chantiam were also charged and are allegedly parties to the offence.

In April 2014, the five men together planned to buy a travel company called Leximco, counting on the OPPA’s “captive market” which included corporate travel, event planning and leisure travel. The agency was rechristened and marketed as First Response Travel Group to OPPA members and other first responders.

But prosecutors Robert Hubbard and David Friesen argued the transaction was fraudulent because the three OPPA executives used their own money to finance the purchase, subsidized, in part, with a $30,000 kickback from an OPPA contract with McKay’s consulting firm.

“It is simply unbelievable that Mr. Walsh, Mr. Christie and Mr. Bain would use $68,000 of their personal funds to make an investment on behalf of the OPPA,” the Crown attorneys wrote in a summary of evidence provided to the court.

“Personal funds are used to make personal investments. The OPPA is not a charity. It has lots of money. It has thousands of members who all pay dues. It has millions of dollars of investments. It has big surpluses. The OPPA did not need a $68,000 handout.”

The trio also worked to keep the purchase hidden from other board members, as demonstrated by their switching to personal email accounts when discussing the purchase, the prosecution argued. They also asked jurors to consider why there was no documentation, or trust agreement, showing Bain, Christie and Walsh were holding their shares on behalf of the OPPA.

But defence lawyers for the accused men echoed their clients’ testimony. There was no “alleged fraud.” They committed no crimes, nor did any act dishonestly. While the purchase of a travel agency was admittedly “unorthodox,” it was entirely designed to ultimately benefit the membership, they argued.

Bain, Christie and Walsh were intensely loyal to the OPPA, worked tirelessly for the organization and were doing as they’d done in the past: trying to secure benefits for members. The three were expected to go out and develop business opportunities to bring to the rest of the board — and they had a record of success doing so, the lawyers argued.

The three one-time police officers decided to defer disclosure about the agency purchase to the board because they wanted to ensure it was running smoothly, the jury heard repeatedly. Their ownership was only temporarily confidential so the board wouldn’t hear about it “prematurely,” the defence argued.

The defence lawyers all argued about the good character of their clients who had spent their lives in policing and who did countless good works for the OPPA. Committing an alleged fraud was not in Christie’s DNA, said his lawyer, Julianna Greenspan.

The other OPPA board members who initially complained each had their own reasons for wanting the three executives removed, the jury heard.

Undoubtedly, after so much “critical attention” has been focused on their communications, the men recognize that their “unorthodox plan” could have been better documented and executed, David Humphrey, McKay’s lawyer, told jurors during his closing address.

Prosecutors asked jurors to disregard a lot of the “good character” evidence they heard, saying what Bain, Christie and Walsh did was clearly acting “out of character.”

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/1 ... tives.html
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Jury finds former OPPA union executives not guilty of fraud

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:38 pm

Jury finds former OPPA union executives not guilty of fraud

A Toronto jury has found three former top officials of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, a lawyer and businessman, not guilty of fraud relating to their purchase of a travel agency almost five years after the RCMP laid the charges.

The jury retired late Monday afternoon and returned to Superior Court on Wednesday at supper time to acquit James Christie, who was the OPPA president, Karl Walsh, the union’s former chief administrative officer and Martin Bain. He was vice-president when charged with defrauding the OPPA.

Prosecutors alleged they defrauded the union by using OPPA funds to help pay for their share of a travel agency, and tried to conceal what they were doing.

Jurors also acquitted Toronto lawyer Andy McKay and businessman Noel Chantiam, represented by defence lawyer Peter Brauti. (Chantiam said he has been incorrectly identified in media reports as Francis.)

After the jury forewoman read out the verdicts, the men, some with tears in their eyes, embraced their lawyers and expressed relief that they have been cleared.

Defence lawyer Louis Strezos, who represented Bain, said the verdicts demonstrate that jurors believed the men —who all testified —that they bought the travel agency to benefit the OPPA’s 10,000 members, not enrich themselves as alleged by the prosecution.

“Today’s verdict confirms what we already knew. They are innocent men, what they did was taken out of context, misunderstood and they always had, in everything they did, the best interest of the Ontario Provincial Police Association,” Strezos said, adding “it’s been a long five years.”

Christie’s life was blown apart when the charges against him were laid, said his lawyer, Julianna Greenspan. He had been “at a place in his life where he was happiest serving the members of OPPA,” and when this happened, it was a “hard fall.” The verdicts should help restore his reputation to where it deserves to be, she said.

Defence lawyer David Humphrey, who represented McKay, said his client - who worked for but was not a member of the OPPA - has always maintained his innocence. “He’s gratified that a jury that heard the entire case and gave it careful consideration has found him not guilty.”

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/1 ... fraud.html
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OPPA execs, lawyer and businessman exonerated in fraud case

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:39 pm

OPPA execs, lawyer and businessman exonerated in fraud case

A Toronto lawyer, three top officials with the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) and an American businessman were exonerated of fraud charges linked to their unorthodox purchase of a travel agency.

A jury acquitted lawyer Andrew McKay, OPPA President James Christie, Chief Administrative Officer Karl Walsh, Vice-President and director Martin Bain plus New Jersey businessman Noel Francis Chantiam of fraud over $5,000 charges after two days of deliberations.

McKay was a lawyer and former cop who often represented OPP officers, while Chantiam was a businessman experienced in the travel industry.

The OPPA represents 10,000 OPP sworn and civilian members, providing collective bargaining and other services.

The accused stated they were going to give the agency to the OPPA.

“These are innocent men and they walk out of this courtroom innocent men as they always were,” said lawyer Louis Strezos, who represented Bain.

“These were good men who always had the best interests of OPPA in everything they did.”

“There’s no higher expression of justice than the expression of 12 members of the community who found them not guilty,” said lawyer David Humphrey, who represented McKay.

“My client’s very happy with the result and grateful for the jury for the work they’ve done during this 13 week trial,” said lawyer Paul Cooper, who represented Walsh.

“James Christie was the president of the OPPA when this all went down,” said his lawyer Juliana Greenspan.

“He was happiest serving the members and OPPA. It was an incredibly hard fall. This moment brings back … and this is the true man, James Christie, always was and always will be.”

The Crown asserted the five men purchased their own travel company in 2015, then Walsh, Christie and Bain used OPPA funds for their personal benefit and to help pay for their share of that travel company.

They’re also accused of concealing their actions.

The Crown alleged Walsh, Christie and Bain used their high-ranking positions at the OPPA to give that travel company the association’s business.

https://www.thewhig.com/news/crime/oppa ... b34d02c74d
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FORMER OPP ASSOCIATION BRASS FOUND NOT GUILTY OF FRAUD

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:39 pm

FORMER OPP ASSOCIATION BRASS FOUND NOT GUILTY OF FRAUD

Five men, including the former president, vice president and chief administration officer of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA), have been found not guilty of fraud after being accused of using their “high ranking positions” to direct people to a travel agency they own.

Last month, Crown Prosecutor David Friesen told the jury that in 2014, the five men bought a travel agency called First Response Travel Group and allegedly directed all member travel to that business.

Friesen said that this was done without the knowledge of the OPPA board.

"All five worked together to hide the truth of what they were doing,” he said.


The Crown also alleged that former police officer turned defence lawyer Andrew McKay set up a consulting company that was paid $5,000 a month by the police association. The money, Friesen said, helped the OPPA executives pay for their shares in the travel agency.

Karl Walsh, James Christie and Martin Bain, Andrew McKay and Francis Chantiam were all charged with fraud over $5,000.

Late Wednesday evening, a jury found them not guilty of the allegations.

Speaking outside the courthouse, the lawyers representing all five men said they were relieved that a jury listened to their clients’ testimony and came to a not guilty verdict.

“They’ve always been good men and have always worked at the best interest of the (OPPA),” said Lou Strezos, the lawyer representing Bain. “They’ve spent five years, obviously, under the microscope. They never wavered, they all testified, the jury accepted their efforts and that’s important.”

Christie’s lawyer said the trial has been difficult for her client, who was president of the OPPA at the time the allegations were made.

“The hit was very hard and he suffered with this burden of being accused of having done acts against an organization he cared about to his core,” Julianna Greenspan said.

David Humphrey said that the last five years have been “long” for his client, adding that McKay is “very gratified” and “relieved” by the verdict.

McKay, Humphrey said, was suspended by the law society during the proceedings.

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Former OPP union bosses, lawyer look to reclaim reputation a

Postby Thomas » Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:47 am

Former OPP union bosses, lawyer look to reclaim reputation and careers after jury clears them of fraud

Almost five years after the RCMP laid shocking charges against three leaders of the Ontario Provincial Police union, along with a Toronto lawyer and a U.S. businessman, a Toronto jury found each of them not guilty of fraud charges over an unorthodox business deal.

The recent acquittals leave them looking to recover their reputation and return to a normal life. That’s a particular challenge when your career revolves around law and order.

James Christie, Karl Walsh and Martin Bain were sworn officers with the Ontario Provincial Police who were doing full-time work for the Ontario Provincial Police Association, their police union. They stepped down from the union and were suspended from the force when charged, and now face an internal OPP review.

For Andrew McKay, who was suspended from practicing law by the Law Society of Ontario after he was charged, will face a Law Society Tribunal hearing to return to practice.

The criminal probe was alarming when it was revealed in 2015.

Walsh was the chief administrative officer for the union then, a position he took after being union president from 2006 to 2011.

“He spent a good part of his career working for the members of the Ontario Provincial Police Association. He committed his whole life to this, to policing, to the community, to his fellow police officers,” said Paul Cooper, Walsh’s lawyer.

“And then the March 6 date came. It was an absolute shock to everybody. It’s been so hard on them for five years of their lives to try to live a normal life.”

That was the day in 2015 when RCMP officers executed 13 search warrants at various homes and offices, including at the police union’s head office in Barrie, and at McKay’s Toronto law office. The searches were part of an investigation sparked by tipsters within the OPPA who had suspicions over finances and business deals.

“Mr. McKay’s life was thrown into turmoil as a result of the unfounded allegations,” said David Humphrey, McKay’s lawyer.

McKay was once a police officer but after graduating law school he built a practice that specialized in policing issues. He often defended officers or worked for police unions.

The former union bosses had a long history of policing and union work.

Christie was a detective sergeant and Bain and Walsh were constables when they were seconded to the union. Bain became a director in 2006; Christie a director the next year. Christie became vice president in 2008. In 2012, when Walsh was CAO, Christie replaced him as president and Bain shifted to VP.

The RCMP’s information to obtain the search warrants outlined a litany of allegations, including money laundering and offshore purchases, but when it came down to an actual prosecution, Christie, Bain, Walsh, McKay, along with Noel Francis Chantiam, a U.S. businessman, were jointly charged with one count of fraud over $5,000.

It stemmed from their purchase of a travel agency.

The jury heard the Crown’s allegations that the OPPA signed a consulting contract with McKay and that a portion of the union’s payments to him — the first $30,000 — were secretly used to subsidize the purchase price of the travel agency by the other men. The agency’s true ownership was hidden from the union’s board, prosecutors claimed.

The accused all testified at trial.

They said their efforts to launch a travel agency catering to first responders were not for their own benefit but to help the union and its members. Their plan, the jury was told, was to get the agency up and running and then turn it over to the union to benefit the members.

They were unable to get to that stage because of the RCMP probe, they said.

After weeks of evidence, the jury delivered a verdict of not guilty.

There was a rush of relief.

“After five long years bearing the accusation of defrauding the OPPA, their beloved organization, the jury lifted that cloud when it returned a true and just verdict of acquittal,” said lawyer Julianna Greenspan, on behalf of Christie and Bain.

She said the two men are uncertain of their plans.

“They are men of unimpeachable good character and are resilient. They are not exactly sure what will come next, but they will take it one step at a time in the days and weeks to come.”

Walsh wishes to return to policing.

“You try to put your life back together after you’ve been besmirched by these allegations and you’re found not guilty,” said Cooper. “There is a process to work through so he can gain back his reputation. This is the starting point.”

The OPP “accepts the decision of the court,” said Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne, a spokeswoman for the force.

“The OPP is reviewing the outcome of the court process and the Professional Standards Bureau investigation before determining the employment status of the three suspended members,” Dionne said.

At the union, new officials have replaced them. The relationship appears chilly.

“The individuals you identified do not act in any capacity for the OPP Association,” said Amie Fabiano, communications co-ordinator for the union.

McKay “was confident that he would ultimately be vindicated,” said Humphrey. “He hopes to return to his normal life and to the practice of law soon.”

Chantiam could not be reached for comment.

The OPPA is the union representing more than 6,200 non-commissioned provincial police officers and about 3,600 civilian members of the provincial police.

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