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
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.