Cape Breton Post
Investigators say warrant shown
SYDNEY — Investigators with the Canada Revenue Agency, testifying in a $3.6 million tax fraud case, offered a stark contrast of events when it came to executing search warrants against three of four accused.
The three accused have previously testified investigators never showed them search warrant documents or clearly explained what items they wanted to seize.
One accused, Angela MacDonald, testified she feared for her life after investigators arrived at her Kentville home on Nov. 22, 2017 to search the premises for various business records and receipts.
As is their practice, CRA investigators were accompanied by local police.
In taking investigators to the upstairs of the home, MacDonald said she could feel them pushing her up the stairs and at one point, thought she felt a gun to her back.
Senior CRA investigator Jennifer Jones testified Thursday that investigators are not licensed to carry side arms and that she did not see the police draw their guns.
Jones said she recalls no noticeable tension in the home during the search nor recalled any commotion on the stairway.
“Nothing out of the ordinary occurred,” testified Jones.
When questioned by prosecutor Constantin DraghiciVasilescu, Jones said she clearly explained to MacDonald why she and her colleagues were at her home adding that MacDonald also said she knew they were there.
Jones said she reviewed the warrant with MacDonald who directed investigators to an upstairs bedroom closet where the business records were kept.
Jones said the search was completed shortly around noon and that she asked MacDonald if she any concerns with how the search was done or any other questions.
She said MacDonald didn’t raise any issues of concern. The investigator said she then initialed the warrant and gave a copy to MacDonald.
Another of the accused, Georgette Young, has testified that when investigators came to her home in North Sydney, they did not show her or her husband a copy of the warrant.
Both MacDonald and Young said investigators searched all rooms in their homes noting mattresses were turned over, items in the kitchen cupboards were searched, including packages of sugar and flour, and that investigators also used a stethoscope like device to listen for activity in the walls along with placing a long, tube device down into the walls that would allow them to see inside.
MacDonald and Young also told the court that investigators kept telling them that the next visit they make to their homes, they would be bringing the media.
The testimony comes in the Supreme Court trial for Lydia Saker, 76, of Sydney Mines; and her daughters, Georgette Young, 49, of North Sydney; Angela MacDonald, 47, of Kentville; and Nadia Saker, 45, of Leitches Creek. All of the accused are representing themselves.
The four individuals plus 10 companies they operated face a combined total of 60 offences — 40 counts of fraud (Criminal Code offences) and 20 counts of filing false and deceptive statements (Excise Tax Act offences).
The offences are alleged to have occurred between January 2011 and July 2015.
Jones denied anyone from CRA told the accused the media would be brought into the case if the accused didn’t cooperate.
She also testified that investigators did not have a stethoscope-like device to probe what is going on inside a wall.
“We search all areas of the home but not inside a wall. We don’t have anything to open up a wall,” she said.
Her testimony was bolstered by another CRA investigator Bruce McCabe who denied ever seeing a gun drawn on anyone or seeing investigators use a device to monitor what was going on inside a wall. He was present for the MacDonald search.
Two banker style boxes of documents were removed from MacDonald’s home.
Another investigator, Christina Loureiro told the court she was involved in the search of Nadia Saker’s Leitches Creek home.
She said after entering the home, she explained to Nadia Saker the contents of the warrant that included demands for tax forms and corporate GST records.
She said the search took only a few hours and at the end, Nadia Saker said everything was fine and reported no concerns. A total of four boxes of documents were removed from the home.
She also denied that investigators use a stethoscope or any other device to check what is going on inside a wall.
The trial continues today before Justice Robin Gogan who on Thursday issued a ruling to allow three Crown other witnesses to testify by video. The accused has objected to the witnesses appearing by video.