Michael Elphicke, found guilty on major fraud and theft charges in October last year, leaves the Penticton Law Courts Monday afternoon for lunch hour during trial. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Okanagan hockey fraudster’s health complicates sentencing

Michael Elphicke’s terminal kidney failure has made completing a pre-sentence report difficult

An Okanagan man convicted of major fraud charges over a failed youth hockey trip to Europe is set for a sentencing hearing on Feb. 23 unless health complications further delay the completion of a pre-sentence report.

Michael Elphicke was found guilty of fraud and theft over $5,000 and unauthorized management of a lottery scheme in late October, as defence counsel James Pennington also failed to argue a charter application to have his charges dismissed on time-to trial rules.

Related: Okanagan hockey fraudster found guilty on all counts

But Elphicke has been finding difficulties to consult with a parole officer to complete a pre-sentence report, as he faces complications from terminal kidney failure.

Those complication have resulted in three amputations on one foot, according to Pennington, who said “at least one more round” of surgery is expected in the foreseeable future.

“His ability to get out and about is extremely limited,” Pennington said, suggesting a probation officer in Calgary would likely need to visit Elphicke in hospital to complete the report.

Lawyers agreed to a Feb. 23 sentencing date, with some flexibility in case a pre-sentence report is not completed in time.

It wouldn’t be the first time Elphicke’s health complications threw a wrench in court proceedings — prior to his verdict hearing, Elphicke was put in hospital in Calgary, where he had his first amputation, and was largely bed-ridden at the time.

Related: Alleged hockey fraudster could face justice over Skype

Ahead of the hearing, lawyers and a B.C. Supreme Court justice had to negotiate a way to hold the hearing, with Elphicke unable to make it to Penticton’s courthouse. Ultimately, Elphicke faced his verdict over video conference from a room in a Calgary hospital.

Elphicke had attempted to argue in trial he, too, was a victim of Loren Reagan, whom he portrayed as the mastermind of the Okanagan Elite Hockey Association and its intended trip to Europe. But as hockey parents dumped about $180,000 into OEHA accounts through selling raffle tickets and their own contributions, both Elphicke and Reagan siphoned off money, with most of it benefiting Reagan.

Related: Alleged Okanagan hockey fraudster takes the stand

Justice Bruce Greyell determined Elphicke’s signing of blank cheques for Reagan even after he had taken measures to curb Reagan’s out-of-control spending made Elphicke a willing enabler of Reagan.

During trial, Reagan was overseas, believed to be in Kuwait working for an oil company, and there has been no word on any potential return to Canada.

Related: Loren Reagan skates off on hockey fraud trial


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