Guilty of money laundering in Mexico
May 1, 2008
Here's a look at the events leading up to Brenda Martin's imprisonment, and the efforts to have her released:
Martin arrives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and begins working as a cook and caterer. Mexican officials say she did not have a work visa.
She is hired to work as a chef for Alyn Richard Waage, a former resident of Edmonton, who purportedly runs an investment company.
Waage fires Martin after an incident in which she says she called Waage's mother "a very nasty name." Martin is paid $26,000 US in severance, of which she invests roughly $10,000 US into Waage's company.
When Waage later finds out about the investment, he refunds the money.
April through September 2001
Waage is arrested for fraud following a joint investigation by U.S., Canadian and Costa Rican authorities.
They say Waage masterminded an online investment scam called Tri-West Investment Club that was responsible for defrauding 15,000 victims around the world of more than $60 million US between 1999 and September 2001. The scam was a "Ponzi scheme" in which early investors are paid with money from investors who joined later.
Mexican authorities release Waage on bail, and he flees to Costa Rica, where he is apprehended by U.S. investigators.
Waage is extradited to the United States to face trial.
May 5, 2003
Waage pleads guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The men involved in the Tri-West Investment Club scheme are sentenced. Waage, who prosecutors call the "kingpin," is given 10 years in a North Carolina prison. His son, Carey, co-operates with authorities to get a reduced sentence of more than four years in prison.
Saskatchewan's Keith Nordick receives five years in prison for mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money. Web designer Michael Webb is sentenced to just under five years in prison.
Also in 2005, Albertan Roger Harrison publishes a fiction novel based on his unwitting involvement with Tri-West, called The Wanted and the Unwanted. The book includes characters based on many of the major players in the scam but no likeness of Martin.
Feb. 17, 2006
Mexican police come to Martin's home and tell her she needs to make one more statement against Waage. They say she will be home the next day. Instead, she is arrested and detained at the Puente Grande women's prison near Guadalajara, Mexico.
Authorities charge her with money laundering and criminal conspiracy.
Martin's lawyers ask to have the charges against her dismissed on the grounds that her human rights were violated when she was arrested and charged. They mount a constitutional challenge, arguing that under international law Martin should have been provided with an interpreter during interviews with police.
By this time, Waage has signed an affidavit saying Martin had no knowledge of the scam. He also testified that he never told Martin anything because she drank heavily, and he felt he couldn't trust her.
Liberal MP Dan McTeague, the party's consular affairs critic, makes repeated calls for Canadian intervention in the case.
Martin is placed on suicide watch after threatening to kill herself if she is not released within the first week of March. A psychotherapist who visited her in prison says Martin is under a "tremendous amount of stress" and "at the end of her rope."
March 10, 2008
The constitutional challenge is dismissed by a Mexican Federal Court. Mexican officials say it is the defence's legal challenge, known as an amparo and similar to an injunction, that was responsible for delaying the case by five months, because the criminal proceedings were halted pending its outcome.
The judge in Martin's case has also said that because she's a foreigner who requires translation of legal documents and testimony from out-of-country witnesses, her case is taking longer than the one year it would normally take if a Mexican had been charged with the same crimes.
March 12, 2008
Former prime minister Paul Martin, no relation, visits Martin in prison while in Mexico for conference on global governance reform. The former PM raises concern about Martin's health and the prison conditions with senior Mexican officials and prison officials following the visit.
March 14, 2008
The Mexican Embassy in Canada releases a statement saying that a review of Martin's case found that her constitutional rights had not been violated and that she had been in the country without a work visa. The embassy says that at the request of the Canadian government it has "taken all steps within its reach to ensure the case is expedited and that Brenda Martin has the best prison conditions possible."
March 17, 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls Mexican President Felipe Calderon to request assistance in Martin's case.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier meets with his Mexican counterpart, Patricia Espinosa, and asks for authorities to speed up the process for the Canadian woman.
March 19-20, 2008
Conservative MPs Jason Kenney, the secretary of state for multiculturalism, and Rick Norlock visit Martin in prison. They also meet with senior officials at the Mexican attorney general's office, the foreign ministry and the prison to discuss Martin. Kenney says that Mexican officials assured him they would try to "fast-track" the case.
Martin reacts to the visit by calling it "a dog and pony show" and says that she is not a "political pawn."
March 24, 2008
Waage, now 61, tells the Canadian Press that Mexican officials are using Martin and another former employee — American Rebecca Roth, an assistant who has also been detained since February 2006 at the Guadalajara jail — as "ransom" for his unpaid debt. Speaking from prison in North Carolina, he says his lawyers struck a deal with Mexican authorities after his 2001 arrest, exchanging $500,000 US for his freedom. He claims both women have written to him saying they'll be released once he pays the money.
Martin's Toronto lawyer, Guillermo Cruz Rico, said he's not aware of the bribe and has declined to comment on the ransom allegation.
March 27, 2008
A Canadian government report is leaked, detailing more than 100 government actions related to Martin since the woman's 2006 arrest. The report reveals that government officials have met with Martin several times and called her repeatedly, as well as contacting Mexican authorities in regard to her case. Martin, her family, friends and the Opposition have all previously blasted the government for inaction on the case.
April 14, 2008
Brenda Martin attends her final defence summation hearing in a Mexican court. Her lawyer, Guillermo Cruz Rico, says he expects a decision soon and later expressed confidence she'd be freed by the judge. Her friends say that if she is found guilty, she will seek transfer to Canada rather than appeal, which would require her to stay in a Mexican prison.
April 22, 2008
Justice Luis Nunez Sandova finds Martin guilty of money laundering and sentences her to five years in prison, and fines her 35,800 Mexican pesos, about $3,700.
April 25, 2008
Conservative MP Jason Kenney meets with Martin for one hour at the prison, saying he expected to negotiate a prisoner transfer agreement "in short order." Kenney is secretary of state for multiculturalism.
May 1, 2008
A private jet carrying Martin touches down at the Waterloo regional airport in southern Ontario shortly before 6 p.m. ET. Accompanied by Canadian officials, Martin is loaded into a Corrections Service of Canada van and taken to a local women's prison. There, she awaits a decision from the National Parole Board on her possible release, which her lawyer said could come in a couple of months.
May 9, 2008
Martin's lawyer, Guillermo Cruz Rico, reports Martin was released on parole from Grand Valley Institution for Women, where she had been held since she returned to Canada. Martin spent more than two years in a Mexican prison awaiting judgment in her case.