Myles-Legér fraud case tossed

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Rosie Mullaley
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Judge says case mishandled by police, took too long

An 8 1/2-year police investigation and another three-year wait to get to trial was much too long, in a Newfoundland Supreme Court judge’s opinion.

Scales of justice

As a result, fraud charges have been thrown out against the owner of the once-celebrated real estate development company Myles-Legér and the company’s accountant.

“I find this situation to be entirely unacceptable,” Justice Jane Fitzpatrick said in entering a stay of proceedings in the case of the company’s co-owner William Legér Clarke and accountant Terry Reardon.

Related story:

Former lawyer gets three-year jail term for Myles-Leger fraud

Related series: 

The rise and fall of Myles-Leger

The judge accepted a defence application and ruled that the lengthy delay breached the men’s charter rights.

“The affront to the justice system and the prejudice to the applicants occasioned here by the delay is an abuse of process that would be further aggravated now by conducting a trial,” Fitzpatrick said in her written decision, released Monday.

Clarke and Reardon were each charged with 38 counts of fraud and a single count of conspiracy to commit fraud, which related to the alleged mishandling of mortgage transactions between September 2000 and May 2004.

Their trial was set to begin next week. But the judge first had to deal with the application. Defence lawyers Stanley MacDonald (for Clarke) and Randy Piercey (for Reardon) had argued, “The extreme length of time for the investigation and its impact on the applicants’ ability to make full answer and defence,” and “the egregious police conduct, resulting in this lengthy delay” breached their clients’ rights.

They pointed to several examples of how police dragged their heels — both before and after charges were laid.

The investigation began in June 2004. Yet, charges weren’t laid until December 2012.

They said while the RCMP was aware of the magnitude of the case being investigated in 2004, it took until February 2007 for the first search warrant to be obtained. It was not until May 2009 when the next search warrant was obtained.

It took years for investigators to request transcripts, conduct interviews and get witness statements.

It also didn’t help that several officers, including those in charge of the investigation, changed at various times over the course of the investigation, meaning staffing issues and lack of resources impacted the case. Some of the officers were even reassigned to other cases.

“The police simply did not go about retrieving evidence or witness statements in a timely fashion,” the judge said in her written decision.

“This investigation was not a priority and was not reasonably conducted as regards working to completion of it.”

As for the post-charge delays, the judge noted that disclosure in the case was not only voluminous, consisting of about 48,000 pages, it wasn’t organized in a reasonable fashion. File formatting was confusing and information was missing.

It prevented lawyers from entering a plea and moving the case forward.

For several years after the charges were laid, further disclosure continued to be added.

The judge also pointed out that having the charges hanging over the defendants’ heads for so long, along with the humiliation of the highly publicized case, took a social and emotional toll on their personal lives.

Formed in 1999, Myles-Legér would develop properties — such as condominiums and personal residences — for sale to members of the public. During this time, William Parsons Law Office was retained.

Transactions for the properties were handled by either Parsons or his associate lawyer, Glenn Bursey, who is now deceased.

Those purchasing properties would forward funds to either Parsons or Bursey to pay out existing mortgages. These funds were supposed to be held in trust until this transaction was completed by the lawyer.

In this case, many of these mortgages were never paid out.

The allegation was that funds were often redirected by Parsons or Bursey back into Myles-Legér at the request of William Clarke or Reardon.

In January, Parsons pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 and was sentenced to a three-year jail term for his part.

Clarke’s brother, Randell Clarke, was co-owner and was initially a co-accused, but the Crown withdrew charges against him in 2014.

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: RCMP

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Recent comments

  • James J.
    January 26, 2016 - 12:33

    O.K., this is a little out there, but bear with me for a sec. We have a costly, overworked investigative system - RNC and RCMP - and we have an aging population with a growing number of very skilled retirees. Why not create a justice auxiliary system that would engage, say, a hundred of the most qualified, experienced retirees to work as investigative interns with both forces. They would get a short orientation and become thoroughly familiar with the criminal code. Teams of two or three would be assigned to a single officer. They would have no powers of arrest but have legal authority to examine evidence, interview witnesses, prepare briefs, draft complaints and, if necessary, appear in court. They could come from all walks but those having some experience in the legal, accounting, IT and science fields would be particularly useful. There would be at least two categories - violent crimes (e.g. unsolved murders) and white collar crimes. They wouldn't be in it for the money but they would be paid an honorarium (e.g. minimum wage). They would reap the mental health benefits associated with high levels of intellectual activity in the senior years. And they could emerge as an extremely valuable, cost effective way to alleviate some of the human resources issues that exist in the justice system. In general, I think we have to start looking for more creative, low cost ways to address some of the chronic problems facing society.

  • Backstreet
    January 26, 2016 - 10:37

    I think that the decried cuts that the former PCs were trying to make at the DoJ last year were in fact an attempt not to save money but to turf out the incompetence that must be the DoPP and his bunch of dummies. The cops might take the rap in public but it's the confed building that makes the decision to waste even more govt money chasing these cases into court. A lot of jurisdictions are realizing that the cost of "justice" is just too high for the results. Note Torontos dep police chief last week. The unions shut him down for speaking the truth.

  • Masterwatch
    January 26, 2016 - 09:27

    Canadian law not justice!

  • Richard Cranium
    January 26, 2016 - 09:21

    The fact that millions of dollars disappeared in the shuffle didn't matter. What a bunch of malarkey.

  • justice denied
    January 26, 2016 - 09:16

    This was a period of time when certain people running certain jobs at the police station were left on their own, some unqualified, and some used their time in the big building for other uses rather than working at what they were there for. This is a shameful way to have this exposed but this is the root of this problem of delays. Others charged "went down " because people investigated like this who had nowhere to turn after a lengthy investigation drained their funds, their morale and yes their respect for the people who are supposed to get to the truth. There are many failures of the Justice system that were caused by investigations that went off track for the wrong reasons.

  • Jacob
    January 26, 2016 - 07:34

    Got to pity the one poor slob who went to jail. After hearing this, he must be banging his head against the bars. Justice gone awry.

  • guy incognito
    January 26, 2016 - 07:26

    NL "justice" moves at the speed of slow molasses....