An Innisfail woman says she was terrified of the Mountie who rented a property to her about seven years ago.
RCMP Const. Hoa Dong La, in a judge-alone trial before Justice David Gates in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench, is accused of using a variety of tactics for monetary gain, involving five different properties in Innisfail and Bowden and in the rural area near Bowden Institution.
La, 47, faces 15 counts altogether, including three counts of extortion, two of criminal harassment and 10 of mortgage fraud.
In November 2005, La got a mortgage on a home in Innisfail and pretended to live there, while allowing Jennifer Henschel and her family to rent the home.
Henschel said she was uncomfortable with the arrangement, but she and her husband decided to enter a two-year rent-to-own agreement with La.
But by the end of the year, La said he didn’t want to wait two years and demanded they pay all the money they owed immediately — $16,000 plus other expenses — or move out.
She said La hounded them by phone and in person and bragged how he ran another couple out of Innisfail who were involved in a similar agreement with him.
“He said nobody f**** with him and he made their lives miserable,” Henshaw told the court on Wednesday during her testimony.
She said in April 2006, La demanded they meet at the home. When La arrived he closed the blinds on two floors, unplugged the kitchen phone, and reminded them he had his gun.
“He had his gun on his belt and he made a very big deal about showing both me and my husband.”
“It was the first time I was instantly fearful of his presence,” Henschel said.
Henschel asked him if he was going to shoot them. “He said, ‘That’s not the first time I’ve been asked that question today.’”
La told them he had taken a police prisoner back and forth from Edmonton.
La said he had arranged a second mortgage on the house and wanted them to pay it off so he would get the money they owed him.
Henshaw’s testimony continues Thursday when the Crown prosecutor Leah Boyd continues her questioning.
Earlier in the day, arguments in a voir dire (a trial within a trial) was held to determine whether a number of mortgage documents could be included as evidence.
Justice Gates has not yet rendered his decision on the evidence.
The trial started Monday and is expected to continue for four weeks.
La is on leave from the RCMP with pay.