Michael Elphicke has been found guilty of all three charges against him, including fraud and theft over $5,000 and unauthorized operation of a lottery scheme. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Okanagan hockey fraudster found guilty on all counts

Michael Elphicke appeared in court over video conference from a Calgary hospital

Michael Elphicke has been found guilty of major fraud charges stemming from a failed youth hockey trip to Europe.

Elphicke was one of two men accused, but the only one to stand trial in September, with co-accused Loren Reagan skipping trial. Elphicke has said he last heard Reagan was in Kuwait working for an oil company.

Related: Elphicke could go free on time-to-trial rule

Though found guilty, the hearing does not quite put an end to Elphicke’s court proceedings. His lawyer has put forth a Charter application to have the charges tossed out, citing the Jordan ruling, which limits the time to trial for superior court cases to 30 months from when the charges were sworn.

By the end of Elphicke’s trial, it had been about 32 months.

Elphicke and Reagan were both charged with fraud and theft over $5,000 and unauthorized operation of a lottery scheme, over the failed youth hockey tour of Europe which was supposed to happen in fall 2012.

Despite raising about $184,000 from parents and through a raffle scheme, which was not authorized by the B.C. Lottery Corporation, no hockey trip ever came about — by mid-January 2012, just $13,000 remained in the Okanagan Elite Hockey Association accounts.

“The Crown has established Mr. Elphicke was more than a beguiled innocent bystander led astray,” Justice Bruce Greyell said in the verdict hearing Thursday morning.

“Mr. Elphicke was actively involved in using OEHA funds for purposes he knew he should not be using and in which he knew was placing the funds at risk.”

Related: Alleged hockey fraudster could face justice over Skype

Elphicke appeared over video in the Penticton courthouse from a Calgary hospital, where he had part of his foot amputated due to an infection. Elphicke is on dialysis treatment due to kidney failure, and suffers from diabetes.

Greyell said the collapse of the OEHA began in July 2011, when Reagan and Elphicke began paying money from the organization’s bank accounts to themselves, with Elphicke and his wife ultimately taking about $19,000 for themselves. The remainder of the money went to Reagan and toward a hockey dorm project.

Though Elphicke asserted that hockey dorm project was Reagan’s alone, with Elphicke only acting as a minor consulting role, Crown lawyer Patrick Fullerton asserted Elphicke was downplaying his role. And even if he hadn’t maintained a major role in that project, Fullerton noted Elphicke was co-signing the checks that went to that project, which Elphicke said he had expected to be paid back.

Greyell pointed to Elphicke’s early attempts at intervention as indicators he was aware of the potential consequences of their actions.

“The problematic issue for Mr. Elphicke in this case is that his conduct thereafter changed and changed within a very short manner of weeks,” Greyell said of Elphicke’s attitude following his mandating all cheque be co-signed.

“He continued to provide a spendthrift Mr. Reagan with blank, signed cheques, five at a time, sometimes more at a time.”

Related: Elphicke reportedly took $17,000 of hockey funds

Elphicke argued he was legally using money from his business, which he maintained was his legal right, but Greyell shot that down, and said Elphicke indicated through his actions that he was aware that the money was to be going specifically to the hockey trip and related expenditures.

Parents that testified throughout the trial that they had never been told the money would be going toward anything but the Europe trip, and Elphicke acknowledged in emails at the time that the word “association” in the organization’s name would indicate the venture were not for profit.

Greyall also found Elphicke guilty of unauthorized operation of a lottery scheme for the raffle draws the OEHA operated throughout the process, and of theft over $5,000, pointing specifically to paying OEHA money toward his son’s hockey expenses.

Related: Alleged Okanagan hockey fraudster takes the stand

Elphicke has yet to be sentenced on the matter, which still isn’t over. A Charter of Rights application regarding time to trial could toss his charges out.

A pretrial conference on that is scheduled for next week.


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Annett finishes season on the podium at Ironman Arizona

Penticton triathlete sets new course record on the bike

McIvor left a legacy of community building

Former Penticton librarian, city councillor and school trustee dies at home.

Crash closes Eckhardt briefly

It’s not clear if there were any injuries resulting from the minor crash

Penticton vacation rental licences quadruple since 2015

More than 100 of the approximately 140 business licences handed out by the city came since 2015

Penticton reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

Heavy snowfall expected on Coquihalla

Snow forecast for mountain highways

Serious home invasion reported in Kamloops

Two people are in hospital with serious injuries following a home invasion

Cash donations create purchasing power

Salvation Army and food banks stretch a donated dollar a long way

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Traxxas Monster Truck Tour to roll into Kelowna

Monster Trucks at Prospera Place on Jan. 13-14, 2018.

Nebraska approves TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission approved TransCanada’s Keystone XL route in a close vote

Most Read