Nfld. & Labrador

Charges dismissed against 2 men accused of defrauding coast guard

Fraud charges against two Canadian Coast Guard managers have been dismissed, ending a tangly accusation of embezzlement and deception leveraged at two Newfoundland men.

Kevin Barnes and Brian Stone were accused of using $170K to fund their own business

Kevin Barnes, left, and Brian Stone, no longer work with the Canadian Coast Guard but are now free of criminal charges that followed them for seven years. (CBC)

Fraud charges against two Canadian Coast Guard managers have been dismissed, ending a tangly accusation of embezzlement and deception leveraged at two Newfoundland men.

Kevin Barnes and Brian Stone are now free of a seven-year-long case after prosecutors declined in the provincial Supreme Court on Tuesday to pursue another trial.

"The Crown determined it was no longer in the public interest to seek another trial date," prosecutor Lloyd Strickland told CBC News in a statement. 

Strickland said prosecution's withdrawal is due in part to the passage of time since charges had been laid. 

"The matter had been the subject of an appeal to the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal, and that appeal raised novel issues that took an inordinate amount of time to resolve," Strickland said.

He said the case also involved "unresolved and complex disclosure issues" and said the coast guard had "expressed an intent, and certainly has the capacity, to recover any monies that may have been misappropriated."

Stone and Barnes had been accused of using more than $170,000 of Canadian Coast Guard funds to buy components for a maritime tracking technology they developed together. The pair eventually sold the technology — a type of buoy — back to the coast guard at a profit through a company they'd incorporated.

Both were charged with fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust in May 2015.

When their trial date was pushed to 2019, the defendants successfully argued that the delay of 53 months and 17 days violated their right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to be granted a trial within 30 months of being charged.

But a decision filed in December at the province's Court of Appeal said the trial judge at the time "erred in applying the principles of law relevant to entering a stay of proceedings due to delay," finding it could be reduced to just 27 months, "which is less than the presumptive ceiling of 30 months' delay."

Police had said the allegedly fraudulent activities were committed between 2008 and 2012, when the two men were working in the St. John's area.

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