Crown prosecutors have decided to press their case against a Sylvan Lake man accused of defrauding investors out of $2.6 million.
Last November, Crown prosecutor Steven Johnston told a Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench judge that he planned to review medical reports before deciding whether to continue prosecuting the case against Dane Michael Skinner.
In court on Monday, Johnston told Justice Eleanor Funk that he intended to set a date for Skinner’s trial, which is likely to happen in 2023.
Skinner is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime in connection with an alleged scheme to sell a product that made fracking operations at oil wells cheaper and more environmentally friendly. He was arrested and charged in July 2018.
Skinner appeared remotely in a Red Deer courtroom on Monday morning using the court system’s Webex system.
The appearance was hampered by difficulties communicating with Skinner, who is being treated for cancer and cannot speak or hear. Efforts to communicate with him through closed captioning of the proceedings, email and direct messaging were mostly unsuccessful and it was not clear whether Skinner, who was using his cellphone to connect with the court, could follow what was going on.
The plan was for Skinner to appear in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench in person. But because of the ongoing pandemic and his health issues, the remote appearance was arranged.
Given the difficulty communicating with Skinner, Johnston proposed adjourning the case until Feb. 7, when Skinner, who is representing himself, will be asked to appear in person if it is safe to do so.
“It is just so hard to do this remotely,” Johnston, who was also appearing remotely, told the judge.
A trial expected to last more than three weeks had been set to run in September, however, prosecutors requested an adjournment so Skinner’s medical reports could be reviewed.
Blackfalds RCMP allege at least 16 people sank money into the scheme between December 2007 and February 2013 and backers lost more than $2.6 million.
RCMP also alleged investors were wrongly led to believe the technology was about to be sold to another company, leading to a financial windfall.
The alleged offences occurred between December 2007 and February 2013 at the City of Lacombe and involved two numbered companies (1518869 Alberta Ltd. / 1367158 Alberta Ltd) as well as N.E.X.T. Legacy Technologies Ltd.