Man sen­tenced to year in jail for ex­tor­tion

Lethbridge Herald - - HOMETOWN NEWS - Delon Shurtz LETH­BRIDGE HER­ALD

A Leth­bridge man who threat­ened to use so­cial me­dia to spread per­sonal in­for­ma­tion about a po­lice of­fi­cer will have time to think about his ill­con­ceived plot, while he sits in jail.

Matthew Grant Ball sent an email to the Leth­bridge con­sta­ble last March telling her that un­less she apol­o­gized for her ac­tions re­lat­ing to a pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion he would take per­sonal in­for­ma­tion be­long­ing to her and her fam­ily, which was in his pos­ses­sion, and broad­cast it over the in­ter­net.

A cou­ple of days later he sent four more emails de­mand­ing an apol­ogy or he would re­lease the in­for­ma­tion, which could put the con­sta­ble’s fam­ily in jeop­ardy.

Ball’s ac­tions were ill-con­ceived and un­so­phis­ti­cated Crown pros­e­cu­tor Clay­ton Giles said Wed­nes­day in pro­vin­cial court, where Ball pleaded guilty to a sin­gle charge of ex­tor­tion and was sen­tenced to a year in jail.

Giles pointed out that while ex­tor­tion of­ten war­rants a fed­eral pen­i­ten­tiary term — two years or more — Ball’s of­fence was on the lower end of the scale, es­pe­cially since he didn’t try to hide the ori­gin of the emails from po­lice.

“They know ex­actly who it’s com­ing from,” Giles said.

Ball, 30, also pleaded guilty to breach­ing a con­di­tional sen­tence or­der and three counts of pos­ses­sion of credit card data.

Ball was serv­ing a two-year con­di­tional sen­tence when he at­tempted to ex­tort the po­lice of­fi­cer. When of­fi­cers searched his home in March they found him in pos­ses­sion of a knife and cell­phones, in con­tra­ven­tion of his CSO. They also found him in pos­ses­sion of credit card in­for­ma­tion be­long­ing to three peo­ple.

The con­di­tional sen­tence was col­lapsed, which means Ball will have to serve the re­main­ing two months of the sen­tence in jail, along with the one-year sen­tence for ex­tor­tion. He was sen­tenced to 30 days in jail for each of the pos­ses­sion charges, which will run con­cur­rently with his other sen­tence, and he was placed on pro­ba­tion for two years, dur­ing which he must take coun­selling and treat­ment for psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues, and not have any con­tact with the of­fi­cer he threat­ened. He must also sub­mit a sam­ple of his DNA for the Na­tional DNA Data­bank.

Giles noted po­lice never found any in­for­ma­tion about the con­sta­ble or her fam­ily dur­ing the search of Ball’s res­i­dence, which sug­gests Ball was bluff­ing when he sent the threat­en­ing emails.

De­fence lawyer Vin­cent Guinan said his client was in a “bad place” at the time of the of­fence. He had lit­tle sup­port, his mother was suf­fer­ing from health is­sues and he was fac­ing evic­tion from his res­i­dence.

“This was a very stupid mis­take that he made,” Guinan said. “He’s very re­morse­ful.”

Fol­low @DShurtzHer­ald on Twit­ter

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