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by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Waterloo Regional Police Service’s fraud squad has escalated its review of a former pigeon breeding scheme into a criminal investigation.
Staff Sgt. Wally Hogg, a spokesperson with the fraud squad, says police spent the last several months reviewing information and following up on calls about the former Pigeon King International to determine whether the case was a civil or criminal matter.
“We realize there are civil litigations going on,” Hogg says, adding police had to establish criminality before launching a criminal investigation. They are now gathering evidence to lay a charge, a process that could take at least two months, he says.
PKI, 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.
The fraud squad, in partnership with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has been looking into the case since June 2008. In January, each police force assigned two officers full-time.
Police have occasionally referred to the review as an investigation, but Hogg calls these “semantics” and emphasizes the criminal investigation was only launched this month and previously “it’s been a review of the complaints that we have received.”
Hogg says the case is “unique to us.”
The length of time taken with the review had to do with the volume of complaints. “Each file had to be looked at, reviewed, confirm the information; lots of things actually,” he says. BF