Par­ent un­der pres­sure to raise funds

Kam­loops man who lost $6,000 to­ward Euro­pean hockey tour tells court he didn’t ex­pect ad­min­is­tra­tion fee to cover wages

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE FRIES

One of the hockey par­ents who lost thou­sands of dol­lars on an ill-fated trip to Europe in 2012 tes­ti­fied at a trial Thurs­day in Pen­tic­ton he was wary about “con­stant pres­sure” to par­tic­i­pate in fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Those fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, and de­posits from would-be trav­ellers, are al­leged to have im­prop­erly en­riched Loren Rea­gan and Michael El­ph­icke, who are each charged with fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000 and unau­tho­rized man­age­ment of a lot­tery scheme. The trial started Mon­day in B.C. Supreme Court with­out Rea­gan, for whom a Canadaw­ide ar­rest war­rant has been is­sued.

Crown coun­sel­lor Todd Fuller­ton said earlier this week in his open­ing state­ment he intends to prove Rea­gan, the ring­leader, and El­ph­icke, who served as an ad­min­is­tra­tor, col­lected $130,000 for the trip, which never left the ground.

All of the money van­ished, with Rea­gan al­legedly us­ing the cash for per­sonal ex­penses and to be­gin con­struc­tion on the failed hockey dorm project in Pen­tic­ton, while El­ph­icke paid him­self a salary, ac­cord­ing to the Crown.

Kam­loops man Ken Peri­son took to the wit­ness stand Thurs­day to ex­plain how he and his son, Cole, signed up for a $5,500-a-head tour of Europe dur­ing which the Cana­dian kids would take on a se­ries of teams over­seas.

Peri­son said the con­tract he and oth­ers signed in the sum­mer of 2011 com­mit­ted them to sell raf­fle tick­ets to off­set their own costs by as much or as lit­tle as they wished.

He ex­plained, how­ever, that he re­ceived two or three emails a week from Rea­gan and El­ph­icke urg­ing him to sell more tick­ets, which set alarm bells ring­ing.

“The con­stant pres­sure to do more fundrais­ing was a red flag to us, that there wasn’t enough money to cover costs,” said Peri­son, who told the court he lost $6,000 on the trip.

The con­stant pres­sure to do more fundrais­ing was a red flag to us, that there wasn’t enough money to cover costs. Ken Peri­son

Peri­son was fur­ther wor­ried to learn El­ph­icke had a fall­ing out with Rea­gan.

“Mike had a phone call with me at some point where he (said he) was tak­ing Loren’s bank cards away be­cause (Rea­gan) was us­ing them for liquor store charges, or ve­hi­cle charges or what­not,” said Peri­son.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, Peri­son ac­knowl­edged the con­tract he signed al­lowed for Rea­gan and El­ph­icke through the Okana­gan Elite Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion to col­lect an un­spec­i­fied ad­min­is­tra­tion fee, al­though he ex­pected that to cover “mi­nor” costs like pho­to­copy­ing, not wages.

He also ac­knowl­edged El­ph­icke tried to sal­vage the trip after Rea­gan bailed in Jan­uary 2012 by cut­ting a deal with the third-party tour op­er­a­tor to of­fer be­low­costs prices.

“From my rec­ol­lec­tion, (El­ph­icke) did try to keep the trip go­ing,” said Peri­son.

The trial con­tin­ues Mon­day.

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