Nova Scotia

Accused ringleader of illegal workers in court

A man accused of bringing illegal workers to Halifax will be allowed to stay in Toronto until his next court appearance.

11th person arrested Thursday in immigration crackdown in Halifax

A man accused of bringing illegal workers to Halifax will be allowed to stay in Toronto until his next court appearance.

Iftash Jacob was released from custody Thursday after surrendering his passport and posting a $7,500 bond.

He must report to the Canada Border Services Agency every week and return to Halifax provincial court in February to enter a plea.

The CBSA claims Jacob brought foreign workers to Canada illegally and was working without permission himself.

"The terms and conditions are more onerous for Mr. Jacob because the Canadian Border Services are of the view that ... that he was was functioning in more of an employer capacity and that the other chap was more of an employee. I don't know if that's true," said defence lawyer Lee Cohen.

Jacob and nine others — all from Israel — were arrested Wednesday in a raid on a home in Halifax and kiosks at three shopping malls in the region.

Border Services officials arrested an 11th person on Thursday outside a courthouse.

Eight people — two women and six men — pleaded guilty Wednesday to working in Canada without authorization, and each was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. They are allowed to stay in the country but not work here.

"My guess is they were regarded as low-level operatives and I'm believing that all of them obviously wanted this done with. They all entered a plea of guilty," Cohen said.

One of them told the court she had papers that said she was allowed to work in Canada, but she believed they were fake.

Cohen represented one man in court on Thursday. That man was freed on $1,000 bail and ordered to abide by the same conditions as Jacob.

"When I presented them with the option of entering a plea of guilty today, neither of them found that appetizing," Cohen said. "Both of them feel they have a defence of some kind."

The CBSA claims they were brought to Halifax to sell heating pads at kiosks called Heat in a Click in Bedford Place, Scotia Square and Park Lane malls.

Albert Price, manager of criminal investigations for the CBSA, said he cannot say whether this is an isolated case.

"It wouldn't be proper for me to comment on other places, but I believe there has been media coverage in other places. I would say that it is not rare but it is rare in Halifax," he said Wednesday.

"They were here lawfully, as visitors or students or whatever the case may be but they were limited with what they could do, under that access to Canada and as a result, by doing that, they were charged," said Crown prosecutor Tim MacLaughlin.

There have been similar cases reported in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

In WikiLeaks documents released in August, James Cunningham, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, states schemes like this are a $1-billion industry. He said young Israeli workers are promised good pay for selling goods at mall kiosks, but many are forced to work long hours and return home with little money.

The investigation in Halifax continues.