Former CFL player arrested in Vernon

Ex-Winnipeg Blue Bomber faces a slew of fraud, theft and forgery charges

  • Nov. 24, 2013 1:00 p.m.

James Turner

Winnipeg Free Press

An ex-Winnipeg Blue Bomber faces a slew of fraud, theft and forgery charges relating in part to an allegedly bogus scheme to build a hotel and recreational facility in Fort Whyte.

David Lorne Pitcher, 46, was arrested by Vernon, B.C., RCMP Wednesday morning and returned to Winnipeg on the strength of a Canada-wide warrant Manitoba investigators obtained earlier this month.

Pitcher faces 26 charges, including several of fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000 dating back to January 2006.

One charge relates to Pitcher’s alleged bilking of B.C.-based investor Dan McCrea and Alberta-based Theresa McCrea Investments.

Commercial crime investigators suspect Pitcher defrauded more than $5 million from them between 2007 and early 2012.

These complainants are the same ones currently suing Pitcher in the Court of Queen’s Bench, alleging he used forged government documents to borrow millions of dollars in bridge financing from them through a company called Community Endowment Funds Inc.

“It’s long anticipated,” said Harvey Slobodzian, lawyer for the plaintiffs, on Thursday.

According to the lawsuit, the money was borrowed for the construction of a large recreational development known as the Flatland Cable Park, to be located on a 27.5 -hectare swath of Fort Whyte.

McCrea alleges Pitcher claimed he was getting a total of $21 million from Ottawa, but delays prevented him from repaying the bulk of the loans. Of the $7.1 million paid out, Pitcher claims only $2.3 million was repaid and is suing for the return of the remainder.

Among the forged documents, RCMP now claim to have evidence of letters alleged to be from the City of Winnipeg purportedly signed by ex-chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl.

Police also allege Pitcher used forged documents purporting to be written by Manitoba NDP minister Gord Mackintosh and John McBride, the head of federal Crown corporation PPP Canada.

Another victim of Pitcher’s frauds, RCMP allege, was George Robert Harms, a friend of McCrea’s and an accountant who has filed an extensive affidavit in connection with the civil case. Harms claims in a sworn statement to have uncovered proof Pitcher concocted a story the federal government was prepared to finance the Flatland Cable Park project.

The allegations against Pitcher, a former CFL slotback in the 1990s for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Blue Bombers, have not been proven.

He remained in custody as of Thursday morning and had not yet made a bail application.

RCMP did not respond Thursday to a request for comment or an interview with investigators.

Pitcher has filed a statement of defence in connection to the ongoing civil lawsuit and denies wrongdoing.

That case was adjourned indefinitely by Justice Perry Schulman on Sept. 16.

Slobodzian said the lawsuit is currently hung up by bankruptcy proceedings, which triggered a potential stay of the civil case. McCrea is moving to set it aside and press on.

Slobodzian suspected the bankruptcy filings were precipitated by the RCMP investigation.

“When it’s an investigation of this nature, the RCMP seem to work in tandem with the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency),” the lawyer said.

Pitcher denies involvement in any fraud or that McCrea and the investment firm were to be repaid from federal funds.

Pitcher said McCrea made the loans because of the potential business opportunities in the hotel project and “favourable financial terms.”

Pitcher said he pursued the Flatlands Cable Park project in good faith, negotiating with the City of Winnipeg and a private landowner, and hired contractors and an architect.


Just Posted

Memorial remembers Vernon’s most marginalized

Prayers and flowers for those who have died on the streets

One year later: Vernon pot stores look back at legalization

Edibles made legal on first anniversary of recreational cannabis

Vernon RCMP seek assistance in locating vehicle involved in hit and run

Vernon RCMP are searching for a grey sedan that struck a motorcycle on Oct. 8 at 48 Ave. and 24 St.

Great Vernon Pumpkin Race to star in South Korean documentary

Pumpkin Classic event to kick off this weekend with gourd weigh-ins

Okanagan College nursing students to make history in Thailand

Students to take on Vernon-born practicum overseas

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Letter: Small actions of North Okanagan-Shuswap candidates speak volumes

Writer commends Salmon Arm high school students for helping at all-candidates meeting

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Okanagan candidates’ signs headed to dump

Dozens of signs were picked up for not complying with bylaws, according to the city

Salmon Arm arena told to upgrade ice chilling system in 2020 or face closure

Fatal ammonia leak in Fernie prompts Technical Safety BC to order 20-year-old chillers replacement

Police search Kelowna home, arrest 6 and seize 2000 marijuana plants

Police seized $1400 in cash, 95 pounds of dried marijuana bud and nearly 2000 plants

Most Read