Photo: Arlan Galbraith
by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Today in a Kitchener courtroom, Justice of the Peace W. Rojek granted the request of Paul Williams, lawyer for accused Arlan Galbraith, for an adjournment, to Feb. 22. This marks the ninth time the fraud and bankruptcy charges against Galbraith have come before the court.
“I need to have further discussions with the Crown,” Williams told Rojek. “There have been several pre-trials done,” he said, in response to a question from the Justice of the Peace.
Galbraith, the former owner of now defunct Pigeon King International, was charged with fraud over $5,000 in December, 2010, following a two year investigation by RCMP and Waterloo Regional police. Neither the fraud charge, nor four counts under the Bankruptcy Act, has been proven in court. Nor has a trial date been set.
Today Assistant Crown Attorney Lynn Robinson, who is carrying the case for Crown, did not return repeated telephone calls. A receptionist said she was in court in another building and not available.
In an telephone interview, Assistant Crown Attorney Sidney McLean, who was in the courtroom with Rojek and Williams this morning, said “I really don’t know” how long discussions between the Crown and the defense attorney might take.
At previous appearances, lawyer Williams has cited the need for more time to examine the evidence against his 64-year-old client. The disclosure documents totaled more than 500,000 pages.
In contrast there are reportedly millions of documents involved in the case against former Nortel executives who were charged after their company failed, and whose trial began in a Toronto courtroom this week. Nortel , once one of the largest companies in Canada, collapsed in 2009, a year after Pigeon King International failed.
“I really can’t compare the two,” McLean said.
Galbraith handed his business, Pigeon King International, to a bankruptcy trustee in June 2008. Creditors petitioned him into personal bankruptcy in 2009. Galbraith’s house and property in Cochrane were seized and subsequently sold.
Previously, Galbraith and Pigeon King International did millions of dollars in business annually selling high-priced pigeon pairs to more than 1,000 growers in Canada and the United States and bought back their offspring. Growers, many of whom were Amish or Mennonite farmers, contracted personally with Galbraith or his company. Pigeon King International grew at a time when farmers, particularly smaller operators, were facing hard times across North America because of low commodity prices.
Despite doing millions of dollars in business annually in the last years of operation, Pigeon King International’s assets at bankruptcy totaled less than $100,000.
Galbraith was released on bail in early December 2010. His last known address was in the Cochrane area, about 325 km north of North Bay. Williams, his lawyer, has appeared on behalf of Galbraith at eight court appearances in Kitchener since. A ban on publication of evidence released during the bail hearing remains in effect.
While McLean could not speak specifically to the Galbraith case, she said publication bans are put into effect in cases where there might be a preliminary hearing prior to a jury trial. BF