Nova Scotia

Pandemic delays major tax fraud case in Sydney

The Canada Revenue Agency has accused four women of engaging in a fraudulent tax scheme involving 10 companies, including the former Spaghetti Benders restaurant in Boularderie, N.S.

Lydia Saker and 3 daughters accused in elaborate tax scheme spanning 5 years

A sign is pictured in front of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) national headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 13, 2017. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Members of a Cape Breton family accused in a $3.6-million tax scheme have had their trial delayed by the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the province.

The four charged are Lydia Saker and her daughters, Nadia Saker, Angela MacDonald and Georgette Young.

The Canada Revenue Agency has accused the women of engaging in tax fraud involving 10 companies, including the former Spaghetti Benders restaurant in Boularderie, N.S.

Their trial has been pushed back to May 25, but Supreme Court Justice Robin Gogan said Friday there could be further hang-ups due to the pandemic.

"We're all dealing with this on a daily basis," Gogan said during a pre-trial conference in Sydney. "I'm prepared to deal with this ... potentially by continuing to delay the start of the trial. At some point, of course, that might not be possible."

Allegedly claimed $3.6M in rebates

The women are accused of falsely claiming rebates for up to $3.6 million. They received $276,000, according to court records, and were denied the rest after federal auditors became suspicious. The rebates were alleged to have been submitted between 2011 and 2015. 

Four Cape Breton women are charged with federal tax fraud involving 10 companies, including the former Spaghetti Benders restaurant in Boularderie, N.S. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

According to allegations in search warrant records, the companies under their control claimed to have done $56 million in sales out of a home in North Sydney, a small business front in the nearby community of Boularderie, a local farm, and a house in Kentville.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty to a total of 30 charges of fraud. 

Bankers boxes of evidence

The women are representing themselves in the case, and have elected to be tried by judge alone.

Gogan asked each woman to confirm Friday that disclosure documents were received prior to the trial.  

The Crown said thumb drives sent to the defendants contain about eight bankers boxes worth of materials.

The women were also sent copies of their indictments and handbooks for self-represented individuals. 

"I underscore the importance of not just receiving those documents, but reviewing those documents and making good use of the information contained in them," Gogan said.

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