© Copyright AgMedia Inc
by BETTER FARMING STAFF
It's going to mean adding telephone lines, setting up an office and budgeting for four full time officers. But after sifting through files and interviewing witnesses for more than seven months, police say that losses suffered by investors in the now-defunct with Pigeon King International Inc. are worth the investment.
"I think we have enough to go forward here and continue on with the approval of the crown attorney and collect evidence and then at the end of the day, if there's enough evidence, certainly lay charges," says Sgt. Robert Zensner, a spokesman with Waterloo Regional Police fraud squad. A WRP investigator has been working on the case with a colleague from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police part time since June 2008.
Pigeon King International, owned and operated by Arlan Galbraith, was a Waterloo-based scheme that involved selling pigeon breeding pairs for as much as $500 and buying back offspring for up to $50 each. The business collapsed last June leaving nearly 1,000 breeders in Canada and the United States saddled with a pile of worthless pigeons.
Zensner says the decision to proceed was made after a WRP representative met with a provincial crown attorney on Monday.
WRP will continue to partner with the RCMP with each police force now assigning two officers full-time.
The case is "probably one of our biggest fraud cases in terms of dollar value, number one, in terms of number of victims, number two, and, number three, just in terms of the amount of people we're bringing into this," Zensner says.
The investigation will involve gathering face-to-face statements from investors and information from experts in pigeons and agriculture. The involvement of the RCMP will make it possible to investigate south of the border, where hundreds of former PKI breeders are located.
With the business declared bankrupt and Galbraith facing personal bankruptcy proceedings on Mar. 9, the RCMP will also be looking into the possibility of bankruptcy fraud, Zensner says.
Galbraith could not immediately be reached for comment. BF