Maria Aragon’s man­ager fac­ing fraud charges

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ARTS - By Kevin Prokosh

THE Toronto man­ager guid­ing YouTube sen­sa­tion Maria Aragon’s fledg­ling mu­sic ca­reer is fac­ing charges of de­fraud­ing five clients of more than $7 mil­lion. Steven Joshua Nowack, 50, was ar­rested at his Toronto home in trendy For­est Hills in late Oc­to­ber and charged with five counts of fraud over $5,000 and two counts of ut­ter­ing forged doc­u­ments. Toronto po­lice and the On­tario Se­cu­ri­ties Com­mis­sion’s Joint Se­ri­ous Of­fences Team be­gan their in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Au­gust af­ter a com­plaint from a res­i­dent. As a for­eign cur­rency trader, Nowack had ac­cess to a pool of in­vestors’ funds in ex­cess of $40 mil­lion be­tween Oc­to­ber 2009 and last July. Toronto po­lice al­lege he never re­turned the in­vested money, de­spite claim­ing there were large prof­its made. “The al­le­ga­tions are to­tally un­founded,” Nowack told the Free Press. “They are not true. I’ll be defending my­self vig­or­ously.” Nowack is also the CEO of the in­de­pen­dent la­bel S Records, who dis­cov­ered the then 10-year-old Filip­ina Aragon. He saw her singing at a Gap Kids out­let in Toronto af­ter Aragon’s home­made YouTube video singing Lady Gaga’s Born This Way went vi­ral and be­came 2011’s eighth most viewed video in the world. Late that year, he flew to Win­nipeg and signed Maria, who is still await­ing the re­lease of her first al­bum. “These ac­cu­sa­tions have noth­ing to do with my mu­sic busi­ness or Maria’s ca­reer,” he says. “There is no re­la­tion, none.” Nowack didn’t im­me­di­ately tell the fam­ily about his le­gal prob­lems, but Maria’s fa­ther, Veni, learned of them from a phone call from Cana­dian gui­tarist vir­tu­oso Liona Boyd, who a year ago recorded a video with Maria called My Spe­cial Christ­mas Present Is You. A dis­pute be­tween Boyd and Nowack forced the lat­ter to take the video down from his mu­sic web­site. “Liona told us what hap­pened to Steven and said we must avoid Steven be­cause he is not a good per­son,” says Veni, who as­sem­bles trac­tors at MacDON In­dus­tries. He then went to the In­ter­net and found the po­lice state­ment and was shocked at what he read, he said. Veni re­turned to the po­lice web­site about 10 times to be sure it was Nowack in the po­lice mugshot. In Novem­ber in Win­nipeg, Veni de­cided to con­front Nowack. He ques­tioned the man­ager about whether he had some­thing to tell him. “He didn’t seem to want to tell me so I said, ‘Steven, look into my eyes, are you not go­ing to be telling me some­thing?’” he said dur­ing an in­ter­view this week. “Then Steven asked if we could go out­side to talk. We went to my garage and sat in my car and he told me.” Veni, a de­vout Catholic, chose not to be­lieve that Nowack was guilty and de­cided he could con­tinue over­see­ing his daugh­ter’s mu­si­cal break­through. Maria lost one ap­pear­ance be­cause of her as­so­ci­a­tion with Nowack.

“I can’t judge peo­ple,” says Veni. “It’s only God who can judge peo­ple. All I know (is) he is do­ing well for my child. As long as he is do­ing his job, I’m OK with this.”

JOHN WOODS / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Nowack speaks with Maria Aragon dur­ing a re­cent record­ing ses­sion in Win­nipeg.

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