P.E.I. minister Harold Alan Stewart now faces 22 charges in Ontario
Stewart faces fraud-related charges against two alleged victims in Ontario
Harold Alan Stewart, 68, a P.E.I. Presbyterian minister, now faces 22 fraud-related charges in Ontario related to two separate alleged victims.
In May Durham regional police laid three charges against Stewart, alleging he defrauded an 89-year-old Oshawa, Ont., widow of thousands of dollars.
Police believe Stewart befriended the woman and used her credit card without her knowledge.
In July, police added four additional fraud-related charges against Stewart, connected to offenses against the same elderly victim between Aug. 15, 2014 and Apr. 15, 2016.
Police say the elderly woman lost about $160,000.
She was facing eviction for not paying her mortgage.
Police allege one of Stewart's co-accused was initially hired by the widow to do some home repairs.
When he was initially charged, Stewart was a Presbyterian minister with the Kensington-New London pastoral charge.
According to the moderator of the Presbyterian presbytery on P.E.I., Steven Stead, Stewart's appointment with the congregations ended on Oct. 31, 2016. Stead said the end of the appointment was not connected with the charges laid against Stewart. A new minister has been hired for that pastoral charge.
Second victim is a 'vulnerable person'
Now, police have laid a third set of charges against Stewart, bringing the total to 22, connected to another alleged fraud involving someone they refer to as a "vulnerable person."
In this case police claim Stewart and his five co-accused befriended the victim, acquired power of attorney and used that power to get credit cards and a mortgage in the victim's name.
Police say the victim lost more than $325,000.
It spans years and various forms of vulnerability- Detective-Constable Martin Franssen, Durham Regional Police Service
The latest charges cover a period from Jan. 1, 2012 to Apr. 29, 2016.
"It spans years and various forms of vulnerability," said Detective-Constable Martin Franssen, Major Crime Fraud Unit, Durham Regional Police Service.
Stewart's five co-accused range in age from 28 to 50 and are all from Ontario.
One of them is also charged with attempting to defraud a charitable organization of $525,000.
Franssen said these two cases illustrate growing concern over elder abuse across the country.
"They're vulnerable and they're trusting," he said.
Stewart out on bail
Stewart is out on bail after posting a $10,000 bond. One of the conditions is that he remain in that area.
The case against him and his five co-accused will be back in court Nov. 30.
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- A previous version of this story stated Harold Alan Stewart is on leave from the Kensington-New London pastoral charge. The P.E.I. Presbytery now says Stewart's appointment ended on Oct 31, 2016.Jan 26, 2017 4:52 PM AT