SYDNEY, NS – Federal attorneys began sketching their case on a $ 3.6 million tax fraud Thursday by calling business owners from across Nova Scotia testifying about fake invoices.
The accused are Lydia Saker, 76, of Sydney Mines; and her daughters Georgette Young, 49, of Sydney Mines; Angela MacDonald, 47, from Kentville and Nadia Saker, 45, from Leitches Creek. All defendants represent themselves.
The four people plus 10 companies they run are confronted with a total of 60 criminal offenses: 40 cases of fraud (criminal code violations) and 20 cases of false and misleading information (violations of the excise tax law).
The crimes are said to have occurred between January 2011 and July 2015.
Prosecutors Mark Donohue and Constantin Draghici-Vasilescu called several business owners from Sydney, Halifax, New Minas and Inverness to testify about their dealings with the defendants and their companies.
Lauchie MacLean, president of the Glenora Distillery in Inverness, testified that he did some business with a company called Juliette and John Inc. that bought some items for his company’s gift shop.
However, when MacLean presented an invoice from the company for a $ 1,800 purchase, he said that such invoice was never paid by his company and that he would never authorize such a purchase.
Crown attorneys Mark Donohue (left) and Constantin Draghici-Vasilescu entered a Sydney courtroom Thursday where they are pursuing a Cape Breton mother and three daughters in a $ 3.6 million tax fraud case. CAPE BRETON MAIL PHOTO
Brenda Legge, a senior manager at Salty’s Restaurant in Halifax, testified that her company would never spend $ 32,000 on balsamic vinegar, as shown on an invoice from a company called Kishk run by the defendant.
Johanna Gallipeau of Sweet Pea Boutique in Halifax, a clothing store for women, said her company never ordered $ 7,000 cookbooks or $ 10,000 salad dressings.
Ron Marks, owner of an Italian market in Halifax, also denied ever having ordered 195 boxes of $ 71,000 worth of lasagna or cheeses or $ 143,700 of olive oil.
“I’ve never bought any of these products before,” he said when he was shown the Juliette and John and Artisan Hair Loss Therapy bills.
Sydney businessman Wade Langham told the court he did business with Juliette and John but never ordered $ 6,000 in cookbooks from Housewives in Heels.
When the witnesses were cross-examined, none of the defendants asked questions but made comments to the witnesses.
Georgette Young told MacLean that she was a whiskey fan and really enjoyed his product, while Angela MacDonald told Gallipeau that she loved the clothes in her shop. Young commented on Marks that his store was an absolute delight and told another witness that she looked great but had no questions.
All business owners testified that they saw the bills only after being presented by prosecutors or investigators to the Canada Revenue Agency.
When the trial opened, Supreme Court Justice Robin Gogan said she would formally indict the defendant, which was objected by von Young.
Young said she did not think this was appropriate because she believed the allegations were false.
Gogan insisted and explained the charges, which had to be carried out before the trial began – he read all the charges to all of the defendants and received a plea for each charge.
Young also raised several objections during Thursday’s trial, suggesting that some of the evidence presented was hearsay and questioned the relevance of some of the questions raised by prosecutors. Gogan overruled every objection.