Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Couple denies loan fraud

Ex-CFLer, wife file defence in investor's $5-M lawsuit

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A Winnipeg couple named in a $5-million lawsuit have filed court documents denying they were involved in any fraud.

Former CFLer Dave Pitcher and his wife, Twila Pitcher, recently filed separate statements of defence in Queen's Bench in a lawsuit launched by a B.C. investor and an Alberta-based investment fund.

The Pitchers were named in a lawsuit by Dan McCrae and Teresa McCrae Investments Inc., who allege Dave Pitcher used forged federal documents to persuade McCrae and the investment house to lend his company, Community Endowment Fund Inc., $7.1 million in bridge financing for the construction of a hotel and year-round recreational complex in Fort Whyte and for a variety of community-based crime-fighting initiatives.

McCrae alleges Pitcher and his company repaid $2.3 million and is asking the court to award him the outstanding $4.8 million.

McCrae is also asking the court to award him the Pitchers' Kingston Row home, their personal property and an accounting to track what portion, if any, of the $7.1 million in loans was given to Twila Pitcher.

McCrae also placed a caveat on the Pitchers' home, which threatened to scuttle a deal the couple made in April to sell it, but subsequently both sides agreed to put the money in trust until the case is resolved or a court orders it released.

Twila Pitcher, the executive director of the Manitoba Cycling Association, knew nothing about the financial interests of the Community Endowment Fund or her husband's arrangements with the investors, her statement of defence said.

Twila Pitcher denied any of the loan money was used to buy her home or other personal belongings, stating she used her own money to buy the Kingston Row house and renovate it.

In a June 7 filing, Twila Pitcher asked the court to release the funds from the sale of the couple's home. A hearing will be held June 15.

Dave Pitcher, who played in the CFL between 1990 and 1998, including for the Blue Bombers in 1997, acknowledged accepting a series of loans between 2007 and 2009 for a total of $7.1 million. He stated part of the loans were "intended" for the benefit of various Manitoba charities and $4.7 million was for bridge financing for the construction of a hotel and year-round cable park and lake on 27.5 hectares of land in Fort Whyte, to be known as Flatland Cable Park.

McCrae alleged the loans were made on the understanding they would be repaid from a pool of $21 million in grant money Pitcher's company had secured from the federal government. McCrae alleged he learned in February the federal government documents and others were forged.

In his statement of defence, Dave Pitcher denied involvement in any fraud or that McCrae and the investment firm were to be repaid from federal funds. Pitcher said McCrae made the loans "because of the potential business opportunities" in the hotel project and the "favourable financial terms." Pitcher said he pursued the Flatlands Cable Park project in good faith, negotiating with the City of Winnipeg and a private landowner, and hired contractors and an architect.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 9, 2012 A5

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