9 of 10 charges dropped in plea deal with former Kingston bar and restaurant owner

Kelly Hale, former owner of J.A.K.K. Tuesdays in Kingston’s west end, appeared in a public video on social media on Monday, Jun. 19, 2023, celebrating the results of his trial against the City of Kingston the same day. Screen captured image.

It has been half a year since Kelly Hale, the former owner of J.A.K.K. Tuesdays Sports Pub in Kingston, has appeared in court, and nearly two years since the legal battle over his COVID-19 regulation non-compliance began — and if what Hale is reporting on social media is to be trusted, the saga is far from over.

Hale, who was one of over 50 Kingston business owners who said they would not comply with COVID-19 mandates in September 2021, appeared in court again on Monday, Jun. 19, 2023, this time facing 10 charges from the City of Kingston. However, in the days leading up to the trial, Hale and the City of Kingston prosecutor agreed to a plea bargain, which saw Hale plead guilty to one of the 10 charges, and the other nine charges dropped.

All of this is according to Hale, who spoke publicly on videos posted to social media the same day as the trial, which he and his supporters are calling a “win.” The City of Kingston has confirmed that all other charges against Hale were dropped as part of the plea bargain which saw him plead guilty to one charge. Hale asserts that the charge he pleaded guilty to is “not COVID-related.”

To better understand the actions — or lack thereof — that led to this point, the following is a brief overview of the legal issues surrounding Hale and J.A.K.K. Tuesdays over the past year and a half.

On September 30, 2021, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) suspended the liquor licence of J.A.K.K. Tuesdays.

By late October 2022, the Licence Appeal Tribunal had denied an appeal of the AGCO decision and instead extended the liquor licence suspension pending its permanent revocation.

On Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, the sports bar’s business licence was revoked; then on Thursday, Nov. 4, KFL&A Public Health issued a Section 22 order for violation of the Reopening Ontario Act. As of Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, J.A.K.K. Tuesdays still remained open, despite a court order from the Superior Court of Ontario. The following day, November 12, J.A.K.K. Tuesdays’ liquor licence was permanently revoked, and Hale and protestors at the business location who refused to leave were evicted by Kingston Police on November 13, 2021.

Hale made his second appearance in court on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Acting in his own defence, he argued that his rights under what he called “the Canadian Bill of Rights” were being violated, and he pressed for a trial by jury. Hale also had the opportunity to cross-examine Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, regarding Oglaza’s reasoning behind the issued orders. The court, overseen by Justice Graeme Mew, decided that day, perhaps foreshadowing decisions made over a year later, that it “had not been swayed that the orders that have been made should be set aside.” The Section 22 Order remained in effect.

By December 6, 2021, Justice Mew had disclosed his reasons for endorsing the Section 22 order against J.A.K.K. Tuesdays, and also ordered Hale to pay the court costs of KFL&A Public Health.

On December 29, 2022, Hale’s appeal against Dr. Oglaza was rejected.

It was Hale’s supporters on social media who broke the news of the results of Hale’s most recent trial, where the former business owner and his business each pleaded guilty to the purportedly non-COVID-related charge.

“I stood for what I believed in, and the fact that they dismissed all those COVID-related charges tells me I was right in my stance. I was true to my word and true to my beliefs, and I knew this was a scam from the get-go, and I wasn’t going to back down,” Hale said to the camera in a video on Facebook, noting that the prosecutor for the City of Kingston approached him on the evening of Friday, Jun. 16, 2023, offering a plea agreement which he rejected.

“They were willing to drop nine of the 10 counts, but wanted to keep count 10, which was ‘operating with a suspended business licence,'” Hale claimed in the video. “I could not agree to that, because it was directly related to the COVID tickets, [and] it was all part of my non-compliance. So that would have impacted our appeal with Public Health, which, to me, is the most important thing.”

The former bar owner went on to say he counter-offered on the morning of the trial, offering to plead guilty to count nine, “which has nothing to do with any of these charges… which doesn’t affect our appeal, and we can now put [the dropped charges] as evidence towards the appeal with Public Health, because those tickets were the basis of everything they took from me: my livelihood, my business, and everything else.”

Throughout the video, Hale can be seen nodding along with the assertions of a “John Freedom,” a long-time supporter of Hale who uploaded the video to Facebook. As the supporter frames the story of the trial as “all nine ‘Reopening Act of Ontario’ tickets have been withdrawn by the Crown,” Hale lifts both his fists, flexing to indicate his perceived victory.

“So I am ecstatic that we made this move. I wanted to get it out of the way because it’s important to me to focus on the appeal, because that is the nuts and bolts of everything to what they did to me. So, [the] Public Health appeal is at play, we’re going to keep moving forward, and I’m going to tell you it’s a great day,” Hale concludes in the video before thanking his supporters and exclaiming, “I love you, I love everybody, thanks for the support!”

Asked for confirmation that their legal team had dropped the charges against Hale, the City of Kingston responded with a statement from its Legal Services department.

“Yesterday, in the Ontario Court of Justice, J.A.A.K. Tuesdays Sports Pub Inc. and Kelly Hale each plead [sic] guilty to one count of committing the offence of constructing or equipping a place of business or other premises used for the business so as to hinder enforcement of City of Kingston By-Law Number 2006-213,” the statement reads.

“After the defendants entered guilty pleas and were convicted, the prosecutor withdrew a number of other counts as part of a plea bargain. Plea bargaining is an integral element of the Provincial Offences Act process and is a routine element in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”

The full 55 pages of the City of Kingston By-Law Number 2006-213 can be read on the City’s website; it pertains to the rights and regulations surrounding the holding of a business licence in the City of Kingston. For a “food premises” or restaurant, this includes the stipulation that Public Health must be able to access and inspect the business premises, and that “Every person carrying on a trade, business or occupation for which a license may be required under this by-law shall allow, at any reasonable time, an employee or agent of the City authorized by the manager to inspect their place of business and any other premises, equipment, vehicles or property used for purposes related to the trade, business or occupation, other than a room or place actually being used as a dwelling, to determine compliance with the requirements of this by-law.”

“No person shall obstruct, hinder or otherwise interfere with an authorized employee or agent of the City while carrying out an investigation, making inquiries, or performing an inspection for the purposes of enforcing this by-law,” the bylaw further states.

“No licensee shall construct or equip a place of business or other premises used for the business so as to hinder the enforcement of the by-law.”

In response to request for comment, KFL&A Public Health — which Hale has indicated will be the subject of further appeals that are “currently before the courts” — offered a statement.

“In November of 2021, KFL&A Public Health issued a Section 22 Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to Mr. Hale and J.A.K.K. Tuesdays Sports Pub to comply with the requirements for a restaurant as outlined in Ontario Regulation 364/20, under the Reopening Ontario Act. Mr. Hale did not comply with the Section 22 Order and J.A.K.K. Tuesdays Sports Pub was closed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by way of an Injunction Order. Subsequently, Mr. Hale has appealed our Section 22 Order to the Health Services Appeal and Review Board and the Divisional Court, and in both instances, the appeal was denied,” the statement reads.

“While KFL&A Public Health cannot confirm or deny the information contained in the social media post, the City of Kingston’s decision not to prosecute Mr. Hale is completely unrelated to our proceedings.”

Transcripts from the trial hearing on Monday, Jun. 19, 2023, are expected to be published shortly. Kingstonist will continue to provide coverage of this ongoing matter as more information becomes available.

One thought on “9 of 10 charges dropped in plea deal with former Kingston bar and restaurant owner

  • He cost taxpayers a lot of money for police. Should have been denied Lea deal

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