Fugitive or too frail to fly? No sentence yet for wealthy Calgarian still in Russia 9 months after conviction
Ken Carter paid private investigation firm nearly $1M to harass his ex-girlfriend
A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for the arrest of a wealthy Calgary businessman convicted of criminal harassment after he missed a third sentencing date because he says he is in Russia suffering from a mystery illness his lawyer refuses to name in court.
Ken Carter was convicted by a jury nine months ago alongside two former Calgary Police Service employees who were also found guilty of corruption-related offences.
In 2012 and 2013, Carter paid nearly $1,000,000 to retired officer Steve Walton and his wife, Heather Walton, who ran an unlicensed private investigation (PI) firm.
The trio spent more than a year stalking and harassing Carter's ex-girlfriend Akele Taylor in an effort to get her to give up custody of the daughter she shares with Carter. The Waltons used their connections to access CPS resources and officers in those efforts.
Prosecutors have expressed concern over the veracity of Carter's medical situation but his defence lawyer, Gavin Wolch, told the judge on Wednesday that he thinks his client will return to Canada and does not believe he is "an absconding individual."
Carter 'less than forthright' about travel
The trio was supposed to be sentenced on June 11, which has been adjourned twice — to June 14 and July 31 — as the court waited for Carter's return.
"We all want this case to be done," said Court of Queen's Bench Justice Glen Poelman. "It's been far too long since the jury's verdict."
Prosecutor Katherine Love argued on Wednesday that Carter's timeline of falling ill in relation to the departure time of his return flight should raise concerns about the offender's intentions to face his sentence.
Even before Carter was taken to a Russian hospital on the night of June 9, he had missed his afternoon flight earlier that day from London to Calgary that would have put him in this city just hours before he was to be sentenced.
Poelman expressed frustration that Carter had not told the court of his travel plans ahead of sentencing.
"Your client was less than forthright than the court would expect him to be regarding his travel to a non-treaty country immediately before his sentencing hearing," Poelman told Wolch.
A fourth sentencing date will be set at the end of August.
Last month, Wolch indicated his client was unable to travel because of a "heart issue" but has since presented the court with a letter from a Russian doctor who indicated he is suffering from something different that makes flying dangerous for his health.
Wolch called the information "delicate" and said Carter should have "privacy over his medical circumstances" in asking the judge to keep all specific references to his client's condition from being mentioned on the court record.
Prosecutor Katherine Love told the judge that police have spoken with a Canadian doctor who disputes the Russian medical expert's opinion that Carter cannot travel.
"We have received different information," said Love, who did not elaborate.
"It does not appear to the Crown that Mr. Carter is coming back to Canada any time in the near future," she said.
Poelman told prosecutors Love and Ryan Persad that if they want to present evidence that contradicts the Russian letter, it will be done at an absconsion hearing.
Carter was convicted of criminal harassment. Steve Walton was found guilty of that charge as well as charges of bribing an officer and improper use of a firearm. Heather Walton was convicted of bribing an officer as well as the firearms charge. Jurors were unable to decide whether she was guilty of criminal harassment so a mistrial was declared on that charge.
The bribery charges relate to paying police officers to access and share information from internal CPS databases on Taylor and her friends.
During the execution of a search warrant on the Waltons' home, police found firearms that were improperly stored.
Weeks before the trial, Taylor disappeared and never testified for the prosecution. She told the lead detective she no longer wanted to see Carter convicted.
But she did testify in April 2018 at the trial for three current and former police officers — Bryan Morton, Brad McNish and Tony Braile — who were convicted of corruption-related offences for their participation in the harassment of Taylor.
The officers were employees of the Waltons and were each sentenced to jail time though Morton and McNish have been released on bail pending the outcome of their appeals.