Manitoba

Alleged fraud ring leader facing new charges

A man alleged to be the leader of a bank robbery and fraud ring is facing new charges, including counselling to commit attempted murder, and kidnapping.

A man alleged to be the leader of a bank robbery and fraud ring is facing new charges, including counselling to commit attemptedmurder and counselling the kidnapping of one of his co-accused.

Gerald Blanchard, 34, of Vancouver was already facing 28 charges, including conspiracy to commit fraud for a criminal organization, participation in a criminal organization and conspiracy to traffic credit cards or credit-card data.

Court documents obtained by CBC News show that from March 1 to May 17 of this year Blanchard is alleged to have counselled a man named Claude Brabant to attempt to murder Lynette Tien.

The new charges came tolight as Blanchard made a court appearance in Winnipeg Tuesday.

He's also accused of trying to arrange the kidnapping ofTien, a 21-year-old Vancouver woman who is out on bail after she and Blanchard were arrested along with five others last January. An eighth suspect was subsequently arrested.

Blanchard has been in custody at the Headingley Correctional Facility since his arrest.

He is also facing new charges relating to fraud over $5,000 against TD Canada Trust in September of 1999 and the Bank of Nova Scotia from October 1997 to January of 2007.

All the defendants in the case were arrested as part of a three-year investigation involving members of the Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver police departments.

The police investigations began in May 2004, after a break-in at a CIBC bank branch in Winnipeg's Polo Park Mall area, in which nearlyhalf a million dollars was stolen from newly installed ATMs.

now