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Alberta

Police organized crime team takes down trafficking network supplying drugs to inmates at Bowden Institution

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From ALERT – Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team

Project Evolve Dismantles Drug Trafficking Network

Eleven people have been arrested for their alleged role in a drug trafficking network, which operated in the Edmonton area and extended into the Bowden Institution.

Project Evolve was a lengthy and multi-faceted investigation led by ALERT’s Edmonton’s organized crime team, with the assistance of Correctional Service Canada, St. Albert RCMP, Morinville RCMP, Innisfail RCMP, Edmonton Police Service, and Winnipeg Police Service.

“I want to sincerely thank law enforcement for their incredible job in disrupting a significant drug trafficking network within Alberta’s correctional system,” said Kaycee Madu, Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. “ALERT has done a remarkable job partnering with federal, provincial and municipal law enforcement to remove deadly drugs like fentanyl from our prisons. This kind of organized criminal activity has no place in the correctional system.”

A total of 60 criminal charges have been laid against 11 suspects allegedly involved in trafficking drugs in the Edmonton area. ALERT alleges the network conspired to smuggle drugs into the prison system and had established connections to Bowden Institution.

Project Evolve resulted in the seizure of drugs and cash worth an estimated $300,000. Search warrants were executed at homes in St. Albert and Edmonton, with the following evidence being seized:

  • 35 grams of fentanyl;
  • 88 grams of methamphetamine;
  • 620 grams of cocaine;
  • 1,341 grams of a cocaine buffing agent;
  • 1,745 grams of cannabis;
  • a handgun with its serial number removed; and
  • $206,000 cash.

 

“This was a very well-organized, well-coordinated group. Their drug activities jeopardized community safety and hurt communities big and small,” said Staff Sgt. Blayne Eliuk, ALERT Edmonton. “And by introducing drugs into the prison system, this substantially put the health and safety of not only inmates, but also corrections staff and officers, at risk.”

“Organized crime groups who traffic in illicit drugs destroy lives, homes and communities. Drugs and drug addiction contribute to spinoff crimes such as theft and break-and-enters, which result in citizens feeling less safe. Investigations such as this are a positive step towards reducing crime in St. Albert and keeping the community safe,” added Const. M-J Burroughs, St. Albert RCMP.

“I’d like to thank ALERT and my team at Bowden Institution for their combined efforts on Project Evolve. Partnerships such as this one between ALERT and Correctional Service Canada demonstrate intergovernmental departments working together to keep Canadians safe,” said Lawrence Hartigan, Warden of Bowden Institution.

Project Evolve concluded on December 17, 2020, with several arrests:

  • David Klassen, a 31-year-old man, currently incarcerated;
  • Nicolas Moores, a 29-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Garreth Curry-McCallum, a 23-year-old man from St. Albert;
  • Jesse Riedlhuber, a 23-year-old man from Morinville;
  • Brendan Baer, a 23-year-old man from St. Albert;
  • Tyler Kemps, a 25-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Nolan Arndt, a 24-year-old man from St. Albert;
  • Tyler Willimont, a 24-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Jessa Brianne Ivicak, a 23-year-old woman from Edmonton;
  • Kolby Gordon, a 23-year-old man from St. Albert; and
  • Chayce Anthony Krause, a 26-year-old man, currently incarcerated.

Both Klassen and Krause were incarcerated at Bowden Institution during the course of the investigation. Moores is currently serving a federal sentence under the jurisdiction of the Correctional Service Canada as the result of a conviction from a previous and unrelated ALERT investigation.

A full list of charges is available for download here.

Project Evolve began in June 2019.

Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

‘Sorry’: Crown calls for harsh sentence for Calgary man in multimillion-dollar fraud

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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.

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Alberta

Stankoven scores twice, Canada doubles up Swiss 6-3 at world juniors

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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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