We first told you about Curiouscast’s new podcast Crime Beat last week- it features crime reporter Nancy Hixt as she does a deep dive into some of the most high-profile cases she’s covered over the last two decades. Well as of Friday morning, Crime Beat has climbed nearly to the top of the Canadian Apple podcast charts. Be sure to add this one to your list- listen at the link below or subscribe to Crime Beat wherever you get your podcasts!
The name Randy Safronovich has a familiar ring in Central Alberta.
Twice the Sylvan Lake man has escaped attempts on his life; once in 1998 and again in 2013. His incredible story, “I Dodged a Bullet”, is featured here in the new podcast series Crime Beat.
The podcast is hosted by Nancy Hixt, a former RDTV reporter in Red Deer, and for the past 2 decades, crime reporter with Global TV Calgary.
On this episode of Crime Beat, Hixt takes you through the mind blowing twists and turns in the life of Sylvan Lake’s Randy Safronovich’s.
The Sylvan Lake businessman was the victim of a home invasion robbery in June 2013.
At one point, the offender put a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger.
By some miracle, the gun misfired and Safronovich survived. Safronovich jokes that he must have nine lives. It was a life-changing moment, but surprisingly, not the first time Safronovich managed to evade death.
“I guess I will write a book called I dodged a bullet twice now,” Safronovich told Global News.
Find out why the FBI was consulted for his case, in a real-life story that plays out more like a Hollywood film.
“Nancy does a remarkable job taking you deep inside real cases she has worked on to give a voice to the victims of these crimes in a way only someone who was actually there could give,” said Chris “Dunner” Duncombe, Director of Streaming and Podcasting for Corus Entertainment. “We are so excited to bring Curiouscast listeners Crime Beat.”
“These stories have left a lasting mark on my life,” said Hixt. “There are many things I witness and experience while covering a case, and the Crime Beat podcast allows me to share those extra details with you, with a full behind-the-scenes look at all the twists and turns.”
Nancy Hixt has received numerous awards throughout her career covering Alberta’s crime beat. She was the winner of the 2015 Ron Laidlaw Award for Continuing Coverage – National Television, the 2016 Canadian Screen Award for Best Local Reportage, as well as the 2018 Radio Television Digital News Association Edward R. Murrow Award in the large-market television category.
Email: [email protected]
‘Sorry’: Crown calls for harsh sentence for Calgary man in multimillion-dollar fraud
By Bill Graveland in Calgary
The Crown asked for a sentence of 10 to 12 years Wednesday for a Calgary man who bilked clients out of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme.
Arnold Breitkreutz, 74, was convicted on June 29 of fraud over $5,000 for what the Crown described as a multimillion-dollar scheme in which investors believed they were putting money into safe first mortgages.
Court heard the money from his company, Base Financial, was instead loaned to an energy industry promoter and used in a risky oil play in Texas that was secured against oil-and-gas leases and equipment.
“The Crown submits that this actually was a trust situation,” said Crown prosecutor Shelley Smith, who told court that Breitkreutz was held in “high regard” by many clients after successfully running a mortgage-broker business for years.
Smith said during the period of the offence, between May 1, 2014, and Sept. 30, 2015, investors provided Breitkreutz with more than $21.4 million as a result of his “deceit.”
“The scheme was due to collapse at some point, but the fraud persisted for a period of 17 months,” she said.
“False contracts were distributed to investors, T5 (investment income tax slips) were also distributed to investors providing a gloss of legality to the scheme. With respect to the large number of victims in this case, 107 individuals were defrauded money.”
Smith is also asking that Breitkreutz pay restitution of more than $3.1 million.
The court received 29 victim impact statements. Two of the victims were in court to read them.
William Janman and his wife invested nearly $3 million with Breitkreutz and trusted him so much they would invite him to barbecues and out to dinner.
“We will never in our lifetime recover from this loss. We find ourselves struggling with unmatched loss on a daily basis instead of enjoying the end of our life and retirement,” he told the court.
He said he and his wife have experienced guilt, shame, self-blame and depression.
“The nightmare continues.”
Another investor, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said she feels like a fool for ignoring her initial intuition after putting her finances and company at risk.
“Who would have believed that ignoring that niggly feeling would lead to the near collapse of our business and devastating financial impacts to all of our employees,” she said.
“Please remember all the victims. I ask that you sentence Arnold Breitkreutz to the fullest extent of the law so he may think of all the lives that he has damaged.”
Breitkreutz’s lawyer said his client should serve a sentence in the five-to-eight-year range and anything above that would be unfair considering his age.
Cale Ellis-Toddington said the operations of his client were not complex and the well-heeled investors knew what they were getting into.
“It wasn’t a matter of trust. You look at the evidence of the investors and they said ‘I don’t really trust Arnold, but the fact of the matter is I was getting a great return on my investment and that’s why I invested,'” he said.
Ellis-Toddington said his client was not motivated by greed but was trying to get his investor’s money back. He said his client’s level of moral blameworthiness is low.
But Queen’s Bench Justice Colin Feasby questioned that argument.
“Is it not an abuse of trust to raise money on both the explicit and implicit representation that you are a mortgage broker dealing in Alberta mortgages and then to bait-and-switch and put that money into a Texas investment?” he asked.
“Another way to look at it is: He was running Ponzi schemes and kept kicking things down the road so he never had to have a day of reckoning.”
Breitkreutz, who has been in custody since he was found guilty, offered a brief apology.
“I can feel your loss and for that I’m unbelievably and indescribably sorry. It was not my intention when I accepted your money,” he said.
“I put your money in the same place that I put my own. Nonetheless, I feel for you deeply, as much as I can and I’m sorry.”
Feasby is to deliver his sentence on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 17, 2022.
Stankoven scores twice, Canada doubles up Swiss 6-3 at world juniors
By Gemma Karstens-Smith in Edmonton
Canada’s Logan Stankoven is used to putting pucks in the back of the net, but scoring hasn’t come easily at the world junior hockey championship.
He buried a pair of chances on Wednesday, though, helping Canada to a 6-3 quarterfinals win over Switzerland.
“It’s harder than I thought, for sure,” said Stankoven, a Kamloops Blazers forward who was named the Canadian Hockey League’s player of the year in June.
“The goals haven’t come easy. I’ve had chances, but not as much as I’d like. Tonight I thought I was able to create a few more chances and the puck was going in the net. So it was a good feeling.”
Stankoven also notched an assist, while Tyson Foerster scored and contributed two helpers. Jack Thompson, Nathan Gaucher and Will Cuylle all added goals for Canada (5-0-0) and Ronan Seeley chipped in with a pair of assists.
Attilio Biasca scored twice for Switzerland (1-4-0) and captain Simon Knak also found the back of the net.
After exploding for four goals in the first period, the Canadians struggled at times Wednesday, giving up prime scoring opportunities on sloppy play.
“We definitely didn’t want to take these guys lightly but they played really strong and kind of caught us by surprise a little bit,” said goalie Dylan Garand, who made 23 saves. “I think we did a good job of sticking with it and finding a way. It wasn’t pretty but we’re moving on.”
The victory means Canada will face Czechia (2-2-1) — the country commonly known as the Czech Republic — in Friday’s semifinals.
The other semifinal will pit Sweden (4-1-0) against Finland (4-1-0).
The Czechs gritted out a massive 4-2 upset over the U.S. (4-1-0) in the final quarterfinal game on Wednesday, leaping out to a 3-1 lead midway through the second period and held on for the win.
Jiri Kulich helped out with two assists before scoring into the empty net to dash the hopes of the reigning champion Americans with less than two minutes on the clock.
Jan Mysak, Petr Hauser and Matyas Sapovaliv also had goals for the Czechs, who have not won a medal at the world juniors in 15 years.
Logan Cooley opened the scoring for the U.S. and Carter Mazur briefly brought his team to within one 11:31 into the second.
Czech goalie Tomas Suchanek stopped 19-of-20 shots and Kaidan Mbereko made 15 saves for the Americans.
Switzerland made a late push Wednesday, pulling goalie Kevin Pasche with 3:15 to go in favour of an extra attacker but couldn’t make up the two-goal deficit.
Instead, Stankoven scored into the empty net with 69 seconds left on the game clock.
“It’s the dreaded quarterfinal game where you’re playing a team that has absolutely nothing to lose,” Canadian coach Dave Cameron said of the pressure. “And give them credit — they came at us and they made it interesting. But we found a way.”
Some sloppy play created trouble for Canada midway through the second period.
Trying to clear the puck from behind the net, Garand sent the puck to Donovan Sebrango along the boards and the defenceman sent the puck up ice.
Biasca picked off the pass and snapped a shot past the Canadian goalie to make it 5-3 at the 7:51 mark.
“Things didn’t really go our way some of the game,” Seeley said. “We battled back and found a way to win. And that’s all that matters.”
A pass from Olen Zellweger to Cuylle down low set up Canada’s fifth goal. Cuylle sent a sharp-angle shot in off Pasche 4:30 into the second.
The Swiss cut their deficit to 4-2 with just 8.2 seconds left in the opening frame.
Joshua Fahrni sent Biasca the puck from below the goal line and the Halifax Mooseheads’ forward blasted a shot in over Garand’s shoulder.
Pasche took over the Swiss net late in the first period after starter Noah Patenaude allowed four goals on nine shots.
Patenaude denied Canada’s Elliot Desnoyers but the puck got caught under his pad and Gaucher poked it in for his first goal of the tournament 17:01 into the game.
Pasche made 30 saves in relief.
Stankoven gave Canada a 3-1 cushion with a breakaway 14:32 into the first.
The Dallas Stars’ prospect picked off a pass at the Swiss bench and sprinted into the offensive zone alone. His initial shot ricocheted off the crossbar, so Stankoven collected the rebound and backhanded it into the open net for good measure.
Seeley’s sneaky pass across the slot helped Canada re-take the lead 12:31 into the first. Thompson collected the puck and fired a quick shot pass Patenaude to make it 2-1.
Switzerland’s first goal of the night came 2:21 into the game when Brian Zanetti uncorked a rocket from inside the blue line and Knak tipped it in for the equalizer.
Canada opened scoring just 74 seconds earlier when Stankoven sent a crisp pass to Foerster in the faceoff circle and he blasted it in for his third goal of the tournament.
Earlier Wednesday, Emil Andrae scored the game winner as Sweden took a 2-1 victory over Latvia.
Isak Rosen got Sweden on the board 16:44 into the first period and Gustavs Ozolins buried the equalizer for Latvia at the end of the second.
Latvia’s Martins Lavins was tossed from the game 89 seconds into the third for a check to the head, but his teammates killed a five-minute major penalty to keep the score at 1-1.
Andrae broke the deadlock 9:49 into the third with a long shot through traffic.
Jesper Wallstedt stopped 12 shots for Sweden (4-1-0) and Bruno Bruveris made 25 saves for Latvia (1-3-1).
Four points from Roby Jarventie led Finland to a 5-2 victory over Germany in another quarterfinal Wednesday.
Jarventie’s first goal at 14:48 of the first period gave Finland a 3-1 lead and ended up as the game winner.
After Germany’s Bennet Rossmy scored his second goal of the game in the second period to make it 3-2, Jarventie restored Finland’s lead 6:22 into the third with Yannick Proske off for hooking.
Roni Hirvonen and Joel Maatta also scored power-play goals as Finland went 4-for-6 with the man advantage. Finland’s power-play unit has been lethal throughout the tournament, firing at a 59 per cent clip (13-for-22).
Kasper Simontaival opened scoring for Finland with an even-strength goal 3:37 into the contest.
Leevi Merilainen made 19 saves for Finland (4-1-0) while Florian Bugl stopped 17 shots for Germany (2-3-0).
Canada took silver in the 2021 tournament, which was held at Edmonton’s Rogers Place without fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.
POKE CHECKS: Both Canada and Switzerland went 0-for-1 on the power play. … Canadian forward Ridly Greig headed to the locker room midway through the first period with an apparent shoulder injury and did not return. … The groups for the 2023 world juniors have been announced. Canada is in Group A with Sweden, Czechia, Germany and Austria, and will play its preliminary round games in Halifax. The U.S., Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia are in Group B and will open the tournament in Moncton.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2022.
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