Formert BCFGA president sentenced for uttering threats

A former president of the BC Fruit Growers Association may have to find alternate ways to sell his apples in the new year.

Kirpal Boparai, 52,  pleaded guilty to a charge of uttering threats earlier in the month and Monday was sentenced to six months probation and a fine.

It will leave him with a criminal record, which could make  travel across the U.S. border and, in turn, making a living difficult.

Defence lawyer Clarke Burnett had told the court that Boparai regularly sells his apples to Washington packinghouses, and sentencing that came with a criminal record would create hurdles to that avenue of business.

That argument, however, didn't appear to resonate with Judge Anne Wallace who said that a conditional sentence—which would let Boparai walk away without a permanent record— was not appropriate.

"When you take on a role of community leader, the community expects more," she told Boparai.

She also noted that the longtime orchardist's  post-arrest behaviour was of particular concern.

In an agreed statement of fact read to the the courtroom, the details of Boparai's high profile falling out with fellow orchardist Karmjit Gill  were read.

After learning that he wasn't going to be included in an Aug. 19 meeting about hail damaged crops  Boparai went to Gill's property spouting aggressive statements in Punjabi and English.

"I'm going to f*** you up," he said in English, with shovel in hand.

He then added, in Punjabi; "I'm going to kill him right here, right now."

Police were called to the East Kelowna Road orchard, but that didn't deter Boparai, the court heard.

He continued to curse at Gill through the back window of the police cruiser.

That led an officer to take Boparai to the local RCMP detachment.

In the backseat of the car, Boparai continued his tirade.

"When I get out of here, I'm going to kill this Mother F*****. Not the police officer, the guy who swore at me," he said, according to the statement of fact.

He was told not to make threats in front of RCMP officers, but did not heed the advice, pointing out that he believed local police to be useless.

Boparai spent that night in jail.

Although his troubles with the law are a first for Boparai, he's no stranger to controversy.

In just a few short years he's gone from being a highly respected member of the fruit growing industry to a man mired in negative publicity.

Once the president of the BCFGA he resigned with a month left in his one-year term.

The Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative's directors had cancelled his fruit contracts and his membership for selling his fruit outside the co-op. They banned him from all co-op property.

That said, he's not without allies as numerous penned letters of support for Boparai that were taken into account during sentencing.

Burnett summed them up by saying Boparai is known as a "generally kind and generous person who is willing to help others."



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