Thunder Bay

Alleged extortion victim controlling, worried about TV taking their photo, Mary Voss tells OPP

Mary Voss declined having a lawyer present when interviewed by the OPP about allegations that she, along with Marisa and Keith Hobbs, attempted to extort another person to purchase a house for Voss, court heard on Thursday afternoon.

Voss, Keith and Marisa Hobbs on trial in Thunder Bay on extortion charges

The extortion trial for former Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs, his wife Marisa, and Mary Voss continued Thursday afternoon, with part of a video showing Voss being interviewed by the OPP was shown. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

The victim of an alleged extortion attempt by Mary Voss, Keith Hobbs, and Marisa Hobbs, drank heavily, was controlling, and displayed erratic behaviour including a fear that their TV was secretly taking photos of them, Voss told OPP during an investigation into the allegations.

Voss's statements came through a video shown in court on Thursday afternoon, during the ninth day the extortion trial against Keith Hobbs, Marisa Hobbs, and Voss.

The video was of OPP Det. Inspt. Martin Graham — who was in charge of the extortion investigation — interviewing Voss, and is about 2.5 hours long; only part of the video was shown Thursday.

"Everything I'm going to say is the truth, so I don't know if I need a lawyer if I'm going to tell the truth," Voss is shown telling Graham at the start of the video.

Keith and Marisa Hobbs also agreed to be interviewed by the OPP without lawyers present.

In the video shown Thursday afternoon, Graham tells Voss she's under investigation for alleged extortion; Voss denies the allegations. saying they're "not true at all."

Voss relies on a notebook with a number of dated entries during the interview with Graham. She says she made the notes for "a day like this" after the victim was arrested in November 2016.

Voss told Graham she and the victim met in July 2013, and were off and on for a bit, before meeting again in 2014.

The victim would repeatedly try to give her money, but Voss didn't want it. She did work for the victim as a housekeeper starting in July 2015, when she moved into their camp and handled cooking and cleaning.

Eventually, the alleged victim wanted Voss to work less, as she was working two jobs as a personal support worker. Voss agreed to keep only one position, and reduced her work to 12 hours a week at the request of the alleged victim.

The victim asked Voss to reduce her hours even more, so she could do more duties around the house. They agreed to pay her $2,000 a month., however she was not happy about being told to take the money.

Voss said the victim became more and more controlling, and increased their drinking as an unspecified business deal approached.

The victim was also paranoid about their TV taking photos of them; Voss said that was impossible, but Craig Loverin — a friend of the victim who testified earlier in the trial — refuted that, telling the victim it was possible.

At the victim's orders, Voss went to the camp, along with them and proceeded to take two TVs from the victim's camp, to be destroyed. During this time, the victim yelled at her and insulted her for five hours, she told Graham. The relationship between the victim and Heli Kijanen made the situation worse, Voss said, who felt awkward with the entire situation of having the victim's girlfriend at the camp at the same time.

Voss told Graham she became concerned for her safety due to the victim's erratic behaviour, and the fact that she was at the victim's camp outside of the city.

She also told Graham that she was afraid to call the police when the victim was intoxicated and acting erratically.

Part of that was due to past interactions with police in Ghana. The victim's wealth, she said, was another issue, as she thought the concept of being found not guilty of a crime is associated with wealth. Another concern was the fact that Loverin was described by the victim as "an assassin."

At one point during the interview with Graham, Voss refers to the victim as "the master."

Voss also tells Graham the victim initially brought up the idea of buying her a house. One option was a home on Edward Street that Voss went to see, but didn't want.

Voss had already sold her home, she told Graham. She adds that if she actually wanted a home, the victim would have purchased one for her years ago.

Voss tells Graham she first met Keith Hobbs and Marisa Hobbs when they came to the victim's home. The victim, Voss said, was extremely intoxicated when Keith and Marisa Hobbs visited.

Marisa Hobbs gave Voss her phone number, saying something didn't seem right. But, Voss told Graham, "I was there for so long, it seemed fine to me."

The trial will continue on Monday.