July 14th, 2024

Trial on fraud charges could be cancelled

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 8, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A week-long trial scheduled to run early next year for a Lethbridge businessman charged with numerous fraud-related offences, could be cancelled if the accused’s new lawyer doesn’t have time to prepare for it.

During a brief hearing Tuesday in Lethbridge court of justice, city lawyer Marcus Mueller withdrew as counsel for the accused, Grant Ryan Stevenson, and explained there had been a break-down in the solicitor-client relationship.

Although Crown Prosecutor Clayton Giles said he is anxious to see the case proceed, he noted there are 3,700 pages of disclosure the new lawyer will have to review before the trial begins on Jan. 29, 2024.

Magaret Morse, student at law with the Hadford Defence Group, said Stevenson is expected to retain Scott Hadford, who will speak to whether the trial will need to be rescheduled when the matter returns to court later this month.

Stevenson, 41, pleaded not guilty May 23 to 11 counts of unauthorized use of a credit card and seven counts of using a forged document, and elected to be tried in the Alberta Court of Justice.

The Stirling resident was charged after police with the economic crimes unit began an investigation into Lethbridge business Fisher Diesel in 2021.

Police allege more than two dozen people were defrauded of $500,000 between 2018 and 2021 through business dealings, which included credit card fraud and the advanced payment of fees for services that were not provided.

The matter has been adjourned numerous times since Stevenson was arrested in the summer of 2022. Many of the delays were required to allow the accused time to retain a lawyer, and during a court hearing last December all but 18 of the initial 62 charges were withdrawn. The Crown also confirmed at the time that there are “thousands of pages of disclosure and information.”

Justice Erin Olsen ordered Stevenson to attend court in person on Nov. 17 to confirm he has hired a new lawyer and to determine the next steps.

“That’s also the day we’ll probably decide what to do about those trial dates,” Olsen said.

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