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Alleged Penticton hockey scam gets trial date

The two men accused defrauding parents through a now-defunct hockey organization's promised trip to Europe have dates for trial.

The trial dates are set for the two men allegedly responsible for defrauding Penticton parents in a failed hockey trip to Europe.

During a pre-trial conference in Penticton Supreme Court on Oct. 26 it was determined the trial for Michael Elphicke and Loren Reagan begins Sept. 11, 2017.

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The two are charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and unauthorized management of a lottery.

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The charges stem from the now defunct Okanagan Elite Hockey Association, which allegedly raised more than $100,000 from minor hockey parents prior to cancelling a trip to Europe.

The trial is estimated to last three weeks, minus four days due to unavailable court time. Crown counsel Patrick Fullerton estimated 30 witnesses, around 18 hockey parents, two city employees, an investment broker, B.C. Gaming Commission witnesses, two accountants, three police officers and a non-profit organization member.

Penticton lawyer James Pennington, counsel for Elphicke, opposed the suggestion of Justice Gary Weatherill that due to scheduling conflicts between counsels the trial may have to be moved to Kelowna.

“This file has gained much notoriety in Penticton. On principle, it’s a Penticton file, it should be heard in Penticton,” Pennington said.

It is not the first time Pennington has argued to keep a high-profile Supreme Court case in the community. He lobbied unsuccessfully to keep the trial of Grace and Pier Robotti (accused of the second-degree murder of Roxanne Louie) in Penticton. He elaborated on the implications of moving trials out of the community during the pre-trial conference.

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“Historically there’s been a move to siphon stuff out of Penticton and Vernon and centralize it in Kelowna and if everybody agrees to that, the next thing you know the Penticton registry will close. It’s a great blow to the community,” Pennington said.

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Justice Weatherill also ordered Crown and defence to distill the testimony of witnesses down with admissions to shorten the time of trial.

“The events go back to 2011, 2012. So it has to get on,” Weatherill said.