Saskatoon

Man found guilty in fundraising scam for Humboldt Broncos crash victims

Andrij Olesiuk has been found guilty of defrauding people who gave money after the Humboldt Broncos fatal crash.

Andrij Olesiuk will be sentenced on March 3

Andrij Olesiuk was accused of committing fraud, possessing property obtained by crime and laundering proceeds of crime from a #PrayForHumboldt crowdfunding page. (Karen Pauls/CBC)

Andrij Olesiuk has been found guilty of defrauding people who gave money to a GoFundMe account that he set up after the fatal Humboldt Broncos crash.

He will be sentenced on March 3 at provincial court in Saskatoon.

Olesiuk — also known as Jay Max Olesiuk — was charged with fraud, possession of property obtained by crime and other offences.

Judge Brent Klause found him guilty in Saskatoon provincial court of fraud under $5,000 and possessing proceeds of crime under $5,000.

Outside court, Crown prosecutor Darren Howarth said the decision should send a message to other people raising money for victims of any calamity.

"If you use the money for your own benefit and don't take your responsibilities seriously, you can be criminally charged and prosecuted," he said.

Howarth said Olesiuk's explanations for what happened to the money were astonishing. 

Olesiuk started a page called #PrayForHumboldt GoFundMe after the crash that killed 16 people on April 6, 2018. The page raised about $3,800 before it was taken down.

Court documents showed about $3,800 was deposited into Olesiuk's account and never directed to the team.

In December, the 33-year-old Olesiuk told court that he gave a cheque for $4,100 to a woman who came to his door on April 24, 2018, collecting money for the Broncos.

The Wakaw, Sask., man said he didn't remember who she was, and the receipt was destroyed in a fire that happened in February 2019, three months after his arrest. 

Howarth is an experienced prosecutor. He's used to incredible explanations from fraud suspects, but said the circumstances of this case made it stand out.

"Just its connection with the Humboldt Broncos tragedy. That someone used that tragedy to benefit themselves I think is, the most delicate way of saying it is, it's horrible," he said.