Michael Elphicke, accused in a major fraud case, allegedly benefited from $17,000 that parents of hockey players believed to be earmarked for a failed youth hockey trip to Europe six years ago.
Elphicke’s co-accused Loren Reagan was expected to be undergoing trial over the past couple of weeks, but is reportedly out of the country — believed by Elphicke to be in Kuwait. Instead, just Elphicke has been standing trial in Penticton’s Supreme Court of B.C. chambers over charges of fraud and theft over $5,000 and unauthorized management of a lottery scheme.
Forensic accountant Darcy Wong with Public Services and Procurement Canada took the stand to provide details of his investigation into the ordeal.
Among his findings, Wong told the court he found no evidence of money going toward the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, despite claims money had gone to that as part of a fundraiser for the Okanagan Elite Hockey Association hockey trip.
Wong said a total of around $184,000 was raised between parents’ contributions, fundraising, Elphicke’s and Reagan’s own contributions, advertising and other contributions to three bank accounts set up for the OEHA.
Parents and fundraising made up just under $128,000 (70 per cent) of that total money raised, according to Wong’s finding.
Of the total amount raised, however, just $12,000 remained in the account by early January, when the operation collapsed.
“The three largest use-of-funds categories were funds paid for the dorm purchases, valued to $44,000; and funds paid to Mr. Reagan, or Mr. Reagan’s benefit, about $38,000; and funds paid to Mr. Elphicke or his wife, and for their benefit, amounting to almost $17,000,” Wong told the court.
Among the funds paid toward Reagan’s benefit, Wong made note of payments directly to himself, but also payments made to things like lawyers associated with Reagan, rental payments and Mastercard accounts in his name.
Wong said there were similar funds going to Elphicke’s benefit, particularly making note of an unspecified sum going to his son’s hockey team.
Most or all of the parents who have testified to this point have said they had no indication funds were intended to go either to Elphicke’s benefit or to Reagan’s benefit.
For one man with experience dealing with Reagan, the incident came with little surprise. Ian Frame, who lived in Alberta, began renting an apartment from Reagan prior to the OEHA fiasco began so he could visit Penticton, where his son was attending the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
The apartment he was renting from Reagan was to run Frame about $5,000 for the full year.
“I payed him the whole deal,” Frame said. “It’s a mistake on my part, but I specifically recall doing it in good faith at the time. I was trying to be nice to Loren. My impression with Loren was he was busy in a lot of areas.”
That, Frame said, turned out to be “more lies, more lies, more lies,” as Frame soon found himself getting kicked out of the apartment.
Just a few months after moving in, in December 2010, the owner of the apartment let Frame know he didn’t have a place to stay. At first, Reagan had reportedly told Frame he owned the place, later saying Frame should buy the place, then that Reagan had an option to buy the place in February.
“I called the owner … and he told me there was no arrangement of any such nature,” Frame said. “It came as quite a surprise to me.”
Reagan allegedly told Frame over months by text message that the money would be paid back, but that never materialized, Frame said.
Though Frame had been involved in previous trips of a similar nature, he said he was not involved in Reagan and Elphicke’s trip to Europe.
Elphicke’s trial is expected to continue into next week.
Note: This article incorrectly stated that Ian Frame had been involved in Loren Reagan and Michael Elphicke’s failed hockey trip to Europe. In fact, Frame had been involved in different hockey trips in the past.