RCMP officer to learn fate of fraud trial in March

A former Innisfail Mountie accused of tormenting his tenants, extortion and mortgage fraud will learn his fate in late March.

A former Innisfail Mountie accused of tormenting his tenants, extortion and mortgage fraud will learn his fate in late March.

Defence counsel Ian McKay presented his final arguments on Wednesday in the trial of RCMP Const. Hoa Dong La, now living in Airdrie and on paid leave from his posting with the Passport and Immigrant section in Calgary.

La, 47, was tried before Justice David Gates in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on three counts of criminal harassment, two counts of extortion and 10 counts of mortgage fraud. The charges relate to events involving a variety of properties in Innisfail, Bowden and the surrounding area.

The RCMP earlier waived an internal investigation pending the outcome of his trial, with the judge to release a decision on March 23.

McKay and his co-counsel, Heather Ferg, challenged Crown witnesses during the four weeks of the trial, but did not present evidence.

In opening their final arguments on Wednesday, McKay chose first to address the issues of mortgage fraud, in which Crown prosecutors Leah Boyd and James Pickard accused La of misrepresenting his intentions to get reduced fees and lower down payments on properties that he intended to offer as rentals.

Crown witnesses had testified that fees and insurance premiums are higher on rental properties because there is a higher risk of default.

Pointing specificially to a home that La had offered to Ed and Jennifer Henschel, McKay said La had met the owner-occupied requirement because he had stayed at the home for at least one night.

“As crazy as it sounds,” that was all that was required to meet the terms of the agreement, with nothing in the documents prohibiting him from renting it out after that, said McKay.

Further, he argued that the home was offered to the Henschels on a rent-to-own agreement, which is actually a sales contract and not a rental agreement, he said.

McKay went on to attack the credibility of the Henschels and other witnesses in relation to the charges of extortion and criminal harassment, pointing to inconsistencies in their testimonies between their appearances at the preliminary inquiry and the trial and stating that there were points where evidence given by one witness did not match that of another.

Justice Gates offered some of his own insight at various points during McKay’s arguments, stating that he believed there could be no doubt that both of the Henschels, Ed Henschel in particular, were traumatized during the course of their dealings with La.

In debating the Crown’s evidence with McKay, Gates compared the Henschel’s responses to La with battered spouse syndrome, including an email in which they accept blame for certain events and their public expression of gratitude in a newspaper advertisement.

The email and the advertisement were part of the family’s efforts to distance them from the accused, said Gates.

“It was their attempt to get away from him,” he said. “They knew standing up to him would make him angry.”

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Red Deer County's municipal planning commission gave approval for a new directional sign for a business located near Elnora.
(Image from Red Deer County)
Red Deer County garden centre and winery gets sign approved

Delidais Estate Winery and DA Gardens is located near Elnora

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

This undated photo provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows a group of bighorn sheep in North Dakota. Alberta's environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province's official animal, the bighorn sheep. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Bihrle/North Dakota Game and Fish Department via AP, File
Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau rejects Alberta cabinet minister accusation PM wants COVID-19 health disaster

Trudeau rejects Alberta cabinet minister accusation PM wants COVID-19 health disaster

Mourners organize a memorial, Monday, May 10, 2021, outside a mobile home in Colorado Springs, Colo., where a shooting at a party took place a day earlier that killed six people before the gunman took his own life. (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP)
Police: Man killed 6, self after he wasn’t invited to party

Police: Man killed 6, self after he wasn’t invited to party

Colonial Pipeline joue un rôle de premier plan dans le transport de l'essence, du kérosène, du diésel et d'autres produits pétroliers du Texas vers la côte Est.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

A taxi drives past the charred remains of a car that was burned during clashes between Indigenous people from Cauca state who arrived to support the national strike, with local residents who do not support the blocking of roads in Cali, Colombia, Monday, May 10, 2021. Colombians have protested across the country against a government they feel has long ignored their needs, allowed corruption to run rampant and is so out of touch that it proposed tax increases during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Andres Gonzalez)
42 killed in Colombia protests, human rights agency says

42 killed in Colombia protests, human rights agency says

Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
All parties in the Commons give approval in principle to pandemic election bill

All parties in the Commons give approval in principle to pandemic election bill

Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan of the Canadian Armed Forces joins soldiers during a lunch with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ont. on Monday, July 15, 2019. A parliamentary committee will hear this morning from Carigan,  who was recently tapped to lead the military's efforts to change its culture.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Military police chief defends independence; Vance allegedly said he ‘owned’ force

Military police chief defends independence; Vance allegedly said he ‘owned’ force

In this Thursday, May 14, 2020 photo, a doctor holds his stethoscope during a patient visit in Blackburn, England, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors in British Columbia are being warned they could face investigation or penalties from their regulatory body if they contradict public health orders or guidance about COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah McKay/Pool Photo via AP
B.C. doctors could face penalty for veering from COVID-19 health guidelines: college

B.C. doctors could face penalty for veering from COVID-19 health guidelines: college

Most Read