Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-Bomber sued for $4.8M

Lawsuit alleges misappropriation of funds earmarked for large resort in Fort Whyte

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A former CFL veteran has been named in a lawsuit by a B.C. investor who claims he lost almost $5 million in a fraudulent business plan to build a hotel and year-round recreational facility in Fort Whyte.

In a statement of claim filed in Court of Queen's Bench, Dan McCrae and Teresa McCrae Investments Inc., allege Winnipeg resident Dave Pitcher, between 2007 and 2009, used forged government documents to borrow more than $7 million in bridge financing from them through his company, Community Endowment Funds Inc. According to their claim, the money was borrowed for the construction of a mega year-round recreational facility and hotel, known as the Flatland Cable Park, on 68 acres of land in Fort Whyte.

The lawsuit also cites NDP cabinet minister Gord Mackintosh, alleging Pitcher's company was doing work on behalf of several charities at the direction of Mackintosh, and part of the loan was to provide financing to cover costs until Pitcher's company was re-imbursed from a federal government program.

Also named in the lawsuit is Pitcher's wife, Twila, the executive director of the Manitoba Cycling Association. McCrae has filed a caveat on the Pitchers' Kingston Row home, and in addition to asking the court to award him $4.8 million, he wants the Pitchers' home, their personal property and the court to track what portion, if any, of the $7 million in loans was given to Twila Pitcher.

McCrae has asked the court to impose conditions that would prevent the Pitchers from leaving the province until the case has been resolved.

McCrae alleges the Pitchers' home on Kingston Row was purchased and improved using the loans that were intended for bridge financing on behalf of charitable work Pitcher's company was to have done.

The allegations have not been proven in court and a statement of defence has not been filed.

Dave Pitcher could not be reached for comment.

Twila Pitcher initially agreed to be interviewed for this story but did not return subsequent telephone calls from the Free Press.

Pitcher was a fullback and slotback in the CFL between 1990 and 1998, including six years for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and one year, 1997, for the Blue Bombers.

McCrae claims he and the investment company provided the loans to Pitcher's company based on documents that stated Pitcher's company had received $21 million in federal funding through a national program on community safety and crime prevention. Pitcher also had documents purportedly from then-provincial justice minister Gord Mackintosh, who directed Pitcher's company to do work on behalf of local charities.

McCrae alleges he learned in February of this year that those documents were forgeries.

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Canada, which administers the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention program, told the Free Press the Winnipeg-based Community Endowment Fund received a total of $300,000 in funding over a three-year period, from 2001 to 2002/03, and nothing after that.

A spokeswoman for Mackintosh, who is now conservation minister, said he was surprised to see he is mentioned in the dispute and would not comment on the allegations.

Records at the Property Registry office show Dave and Twila Pitcher bought their Kingston Row home in December 2007 -- several months after receiving the first $1-million loan -- for $380,000. The home was sold last month for $592,000. The sale has not yet been registered at the Property Registry office.

However, on May 2, McCrae and the investment company placed a caveat on the Kingston Row property, citing "monies" belonging to them had been "misappropriated" by Dave and Twila Pitcher for the "acquisition, maintenance, and substantial improvement and renovation," of the property. The caveat is intended to prevent the sale from being registered.

McCrae alleges Pitcher said he would repay the loan through grant money from a federal government program known as The Business Action Program of The National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention.

McCrae alleges one of the projects approved for funding was the recreational facility and hotel in Fort Whyte, where he and the investment company provided Pitcher with start-up funds of $4.7 million, which was to be repaid through the federal funding.

A promotional video on YouTube describes the Flatland Cable Park as a hotel and year-round recreational facility to be built on a large lake, with a cable system for skiers and wake boarders.

McCrae also states he and the investment company made their first $1 million loan to Pitcher in early 2007, after Pitcher showed him documents allegedly from Mackintosh, directing him to carry out some projects for a variety of charities.

McCrae states he learned in February of this year all the documentation, including the letter from Mackintosh and the federal government, were alleged to be forgeries, "having been fabricated by or on behalf of (Community Endowment Fund Inc.) and Dave (Pitcher).... The grant commitments from the Government of Canada to CEF never existed and were totally fabricated by CEF and Dave (Pitcher)."

McCrae alleges he and the investment company provided $7.1 million in a series of five loans to Pitcher's company, and $2.3 million has been repaid. No money has been repaid since September 2009.

McCrae is asking the court to award him and the investment company $4.8 million, the Pitchers' Kingston Row home and to order an accounting of how the loan money was used and if any of it was given to Twila Pitcher.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 26, 2012 A4

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Updated on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 7:59 AM CDT: adds fact box

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