Nova Scotia

Cape Breton property developer faces extortion charge

A Cape Breton developer has been charged with extortion involving an immigrant couple from Germany. The man has had controversial dealings with European immigrants in the past.

RCMP say Frank Eckhardt of Richmond County wanted money or land to stave off immigrant couple's deportation

RCMP say controversial Cape Breton land developer Frank Eckhardt has been charged with extortion involving an immigrant couple from Germany. (CBC)

A Cape Breton man who has had controversial dealings with European immigrants in the past has been charged with extortion involving a couple from Germany.

RCMP say Frank Eckhardt of Grand River in Richmond County was arrested Dec. 6 and released on conditions.

Cpl. Chris Marshall said Eckhardt allegedly helped a couple immigrate to Canada and was renting them some commercial space, but the couple asked about ways to legally break the lease.

Marshall said that's when Eckhardt demanded money or property, or he would ensure the couple's temporary work visas would be revoked, resulting in their deportation.

The investigation is ongoing, Marshall said.

More charges not ruled out

"Right now, it's just the one charge that we've gone with because we have the evidence to support that one count, but that's not to say that there couldn't be additional charges laid at a later time," he said.

Eckhardt, 56, is expected to appear in Port Hawkesbury provincial court on Feb. 28, 2022.

He was first in the news two years ago after a couple from Austria complained that Eckhardt had sold them property at an inflated price and had failed to help them with immigration as promised.

The couple was eventually deported.

Nazi propaganda investigated

Eckhardt was also in the news last year after a German couple complained he had tried to sell them property in Cape Breton at far above the market rate and that he had sent them Nazi propaganda from around the time of the Second World War.

The couple eventually bought property in Cape Breton from someone else.

RCMP investigated their claims and said the Nazi material was offensive, but did not constitute a crime. No other charges were laid.

Signs for Eckhardt's property development business, F.E. Property Sales, were subsequently vandalized with messages such as "Nazi go home."

RCMP investigated those incidents, but no suspects were identified and that investigation closed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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