February 26th, 2024

Fraud charges against businessman could be resolved without trial

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 2, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge businessman who was expected to stand trial for numerous fraud-related offences, may resolve his charges without a trial.
Grant Ryan Stevenson was scheduled to stand trial Tuesday in Lethbridge court of justice, but it was cancelled in December, a month after the accused’s lawyer withdrew from the case, citing a breakdown in the solicitor-client relationship.
During a hearing Dec. 15, court was told another pretrial conference would be held Jan. 30 to discuss trial issues and set dates for a new trial, and the dates would be confirmed Feb. 1 in docket court. However, on Thursday Lethbridge lawyer Cara Lebenzon said those plans had changed, and the Crown and defence were discussing resolution of the charges.
Lebenzon, who was acting as agent for Stevenson’s lawyer, Scott Hadford, requested the matter be adjourned to Feb. 22, but added she isn’t sure what will happen that day.
“It’s not 100 per cent sure yet if steps will be taken on that date, but we can advise the court that things are moving.”
Justice Jerry LeGrandeur agreed with the adjournment, but reminded counsel that the case is 15 months old.
A Supreme Court of Canada case, R. v. Jordan — often called the Jordan decision — establishes timelines in which trials must be heard: 18 months after charges are laid in a lower court such as Alberta Court of Justice, and 30 months after charges are laid in a province’s superior court such as Court of King’s Bench.
Stevenson pleaded not guilty May 23 of last year to 11 counts of unauthorized use of a credit card and seven counts of using a forged document, and elected to be tried in the Alberta Court of Justice.
The Stirling resident was charged after police with the economic crimes unit began an investigation into Lethbridge business Fisher Diesel in 2021.
Police allege more than two dozen people were defrauded of $500,000 between 2018 and 2021 through business dealings, which included credit card fraud and the advanced payment of fees for services that were not provided.
The matter has been adjourned numerous times since Stevenson was arrested in the summer of 2022. Many of the delays were required to allow the accused time to retain a lawyer, and during a court hearing in December of 2022 all but 18 of the initial 62 charges were withdrawn. The Crown also confirmed at the time that there are “thousands of pages of disclosure and information.”

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