Bad phone connection blamed for non-appearance in alleged hockey fraud case

Two men accused of defrauding Penticton parents in a failed hockey trip to Europe.

A bad cell phone connection was to blame for a non-appearance in court, according to the lawyer of one of two men accused of defrauding parents in a failed hockey trip to Europe.

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Kim Ross, defence counsel for Loren Reagan, who alongside Michael Elphicke is charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and the unauthorized management of a lottery, told the court on Oct. 11 that a bad cell phone connection was to blame for a prior non-appearance in September.

The court heard from Crown that would possibly pursue an arrest warrant for Reagan in late September after neither he nor his counsel appeared in Supreme Court.

“Just to be clear m’Lord, I was available. That call came into — that conference came in to my cellphone. I went to pick up the call, it dropped the call. I called back the numbers that I had to try and get back on (the) line and I couldn’t,” Ross said. “I left a message with the trial co-ordinator indicating that I was trying to do that and unfortunately by the time I was able to make contact … they had been counselled, so to speak.”

Reagan has yet to appear in court in person. Reagan and Elphicke’s charges stem from the defunct Okanagan Elite Hockey Association, which allegedly raised more than $100,000 from minor hockey parents prior to cancelling a trip to Europe.

Read more: Fraud charges placed against defunct hockey association

The preliminary inquiry is five months away and Crown aired concerns there were no trial dates set.

“Crown has been ready from the get-go to fix trial dates. But this has been a scheduling with my friend — with regards to my friend Mr. Ross, this has been a scheduling issue from the get-go,” said Patrick Fullerton, Crown counsel. “I do think, from the Crown’s point of view, that we do need to move this file ahead as quickly as possible.”

Fullerton said the upcoming pre-trial conference set for Oct. 14 will be quick, running over trial time estimates and housekeeping matters.