Man sentenced to year in jail for extortion
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.”
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