Penticton  

Hockey fraudster guilty

One of the two men charged in a high-profile hockey fraud case in Penticton was found guilty Thursday on all counts.

Michael Elphicke was convicted of fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000 and unlawful management of a lottery scheme.

“Based on the evidence I heard at trial, Mr. Elphicke was complicit with Mr. Reagan with defrauding the hockey parents,” said Justice Bruce Greyell. “He was control of the banking arrangements, and he did little to constrain Mr. Reagan’s drawing on this new cash cow the two had created.”

The Elphicke defence attempted to paint the crimes as a one-man act, perpetrated by co-accused Loren Reagan. Greyell rejected that argument, stating “at minimum, Mr. Elphicke was willfully blind to the risk” the parent's funds had been put in by his “spendthrift” business partner Reagan.

Reagan is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant after not showing up for the start of the trial. He tells Castanet he’s in Kuwait, planning to return to the Canada shortly.

Elphicke received the decision via videoconference from a room at Foothills Hospital in Calgary, after losing part of his foot to an amputation earlier this month. During the three-week trial in September, the court heard Elphicke is diabetic and experiencing kidney failure.

Elphicke and Reagan were charged in connection the business dealings of the now-defunct Okanagan Elite Hockey Association.

The OEHA collected around $130,000 from a group of parents for an overseas hockey trip that never occurred; instead paying personal salaries, expenses and most notably, development fees for the failed hockey dorm project on the SOEC campus.

Elphicke will be sentenced at a later date. A Charter application for a stay of charges based on the length of the court proceedings is still outstanding and will be heard by the courts in the coming weeks.

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