Disgraced and debilitated one-time fashion mogul Peter Nygard spends his days in protective custody near the old gallows in the "condemned cells" area at Headingley Correctional Centre, the Free Press has learned.

The 79 year old, accused of sex crimes and racketeering over a 25-year period, is being held on the main floor of the jail because he's unable to climb stairs, a source told the newspaper.

A corrections officer escorts him to the main-floor medical unit for showers. He eats alone in his cell and has no contact with other inmates.

Coverage of Winnipeg business icon Peter Nygard

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(Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images/TNS)						</p>																	<p>Winnipeg businessman Peter Nygard is the subject of a civil class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S.						</p>
(Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images/TNS)

Winnipeg businessman Peter Nygard is the subject of a civil class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S.

Posted: 11:45 AM Mar. 10, 2020

A class-action lawsuit alleges Winnipeg fashion mogul Peter Nygard lured women, many under the age of 18, to his Bahamian estate so he could assault, rape and sodomize them — part of a decades-long sex-trafficking scheme his companies helped him achieve.

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Nygard, who is fighting extradition to the U.S. to face nine charges, has been in custody since Dec. 14.

He is seeking bail, but a judge sent his lawyers back to the drawing board Wednesday when she raised serious concerns about their plan if he's released. The hearing will continue on Jan. 28.

Lawyers Richard Wolson and Jay Prober focused a large part of their submissions on their client's failing health and his vulnerability to COVID-19 should he remain behind bars.

"His health is in a downward spiral," Wolson told Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Shawn Greenberg. "I know (corrections staff) are doing everything to keep people safe, but everything isn’t working."

Authorities in New York have filed a nine-count indictment against Nygard in federal court alleging he engaged in sex trafficking, racketeering and other related offences involving dozens of women.

As he did Tuesday, Nygard appeared by video from Headingley Correctional Centre.

Affidavits provided to court by Nygard’s doctors say he has coronary artery disease, Type 2 diabetes, and fluctuating blood pressure.

His health has deteriorated, he has lost weight and has had more difficulty breathing while in custody, Wolson said.

Remaining in jail is "a horrible situation for a man who is compromised in so many different ways from a health perspective," he said. "Nygard is a time bomb."

The judge sent Peter Nygard's lawyers back to the drawing board Wednesday when she raised serious concerns about their plan if he's released on bail.

TADENS MPWENE / LA LIBERTé MANITOBA

The judge sent Peter Nygard's lawyers back to the drawing board Wednesday when she raised serious concerns about their plan if he's released on bail.

Greenberg said there is no question the current pandemic is a factor to be considered when deciding whether to grant bail, but it is just one of several considerations.

She said her greater concern is with the evidence of Greg Fenske, a former Nygard company executive who has offered to provide a surety in the amount of $900,000.

Fenske has offered to allow his former boss to live in a $1-million house on John Bruce Road that he purchased through a numbered company and monitor him to ensure he is complying with his bail conditions.

But on Tuesday, court heard the house was purchased with money Nygard provided Fenske from a "consulting commission."

Fenske has no incentive to ensure Nygard is complying with his bail conditions if any money he is ordered to forfeit is actually Nygard’s, not his own, Greenberg said.

“There are serious issues with Mr. Fenske. The question for me is still the adequacy of the bail plan.” – Justice Shawn Greenberg

"We want to have a surety where they have a reason to monitor someone," Greenberg said. Fenske "has no skin in the game."

Greenberg said she was also "not impressed" with Fenske’s evidence as to his compliance with court orders after the Nygard Group of companies was placed in receivership last March, including the deletion of 1,000 company emails and company "manipulation" that delayed the disbursement of $500,000 in payroll funds.

"There are serious issues with Mr. Fenske," Greenberg said. "The question for me is still the adequacy of the bail plan."

Scott Farlinger, counsel for the attorney general of Canada, is opposing Nygard’s release, arguing he has undisclosed financial resources that he could use to flee the jurisdiction.

But Prober told Greenberg that if Nygard wanted to flee the country, he could have done it months ago when he learned he was under investigation in the United States.

Nygard remained in Canada after returning from Los Angeles last February, "knowing full well there was a criminal investigation going on in the U.S.," Prober said. "He could have left, but he didn’t."

 

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.

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