He is accused of conning a Manitoba charity of more than $7,000 destined for children with cancer.
Now, a mystery man at the centre of the controversial case may have blazed an even bigger trail of deceit. The Free Press has learned the accused is a U.S. fugitive who has apparently spent the past five years on the run.
Tyrell Cox, 33, was arrested in Winnipeg in August and charged with fraud and forgery. He is currently free on bail, with his next court date set for Oct. 30. None of the allegations has been proven and he is presumed innocent.
I can't believe it. We were told he'd left the country but didn't know where he was.
American court records show Cox was arrested in Virginia in April 2003 for online fraud. He pleaded guilty in May 2004 and was given a three-year suspended sentence followed by probation, along with a $775 fine.
Cox was rearrested in April 2008 and charged with violating his probation. He was released on a promise to appear in court in May 2008, but never showed. Warrants have been outstanding since that date.
There are also several outstanding driving-related fines owed by Cox for offences in 2007 and 2008, according to court records.
Winnipeg police were apparently unaware of Cox's U.S. criminal history and warrant status at the time of his initial arrest earlier this year. He was released on bail, and neither U.S. officials nor the federal Crown was notified about the fact he'd been caught.
Police in Virginia also had no idea a man they'd been searching for had finally surfaced in Canada.
"I can't believe it. We were told he'd left the country but didn't know where he was," officer Lisa Klein said Tuesday when informed of Cox's whereabouts by the Free Press.
Klein was planning to speak to Winnipeg police later in the day to discuss the case. Other police agencies are expected to get involved to piece together how, and where, Cox has spent the past five years.
"I'd be more than happy to come to Manitoba to get him," said Klein.
She will likely have to wait until the Canadian charges are dealt with before he would be deported to the U.S. to deal with those outstanding charges.
Cox drew the attention of city police for his alleged role in a December 2011 ice-fishing derby intended to raise money for local children with cancer. Jim Bais, the treasurer of the Kids Fishing For A Cure event, said he was approached by Cox, who used the bogus name Ty Chartrand, wanting to volunteer.
Bais said the arrangement was for Chartrand to give him the $7,200 cheque once the event was over, but the money never came. Bais went to the police after he was presented with a deposit slip earlier this year showing the funds had been given to CancerCare Manitoba, yet CancerCare had not received any money
Bais told the Free Press on Tuesday he was stunned to learn Cox is wanted in the U.S.
Much of Bais' faith in humanity has been restored by the fact people have donated more than $14,000 since news first broke in the Free Press last week.
"It just keeps coming in. It's absolutely fabulous," he said.