Steven Scott, who is now accused of 25 charges related to a six-month fraud investigation by Kingston Police, will not be released on bail.
Justice of the Peace David J. Auger made the ruling against Scott’s release on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, taking over an hour to read the intricately considered decision.
The bail hearing began on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2024, but was cut short due to scheduling conflicts, thus requiring the continuance on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. Evidence presented during either portion of the bail hearing cannot be reported due to a publication ban set by Auger on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, under Section 517 of the Criminal Code.
The January 25 hearing began with a complaint from Scott’s defence counsel, Joseph Addelman, of Addelman, Baun, Gilbert, Robinson, LLP in Ottawa. Addlemen asked Auger to shut down the virtual portion of the court because he had come to understand that a central witness in the case had listened to the entirety of the first day’s evidence despite Auger having issued a witness exclusion order. Such an order demands that witnesses and potential witnesses remain outside the courtroom until they testify. This is to make sure that witnesses do not change their evidence based on what they hear other witnesses say in the courtroom.
“She didn’t care, and it is going to happen again,” Addleman argued, saying that the courtroom was open and that people should be in the room if they wanted to observe. This caused a bit of a stir on Zoom when at least two members of the media watching raised their hands to get the court’s attention.
Without acknowledging the reporters, Auger denied Abbleman’s request, stating that this was a hybrid courtroom by design and he had an issue with shutting one part down effectively eliminating some viewers and preventing the open court principal as stated in Section 486 of the Criminal Code under “Exclusion of public.”
The section states that “Any proceedings against an accused shall be held in open court, but the presiding judge or justice may, on the application of the prosecutor or a witness or on his or her own motion, order the exclusion of all or any members of the public from the court room… if the judge or justice is of the opinion that such an order is in the interest of public morals, the maintenance of order or the proper administration of justice or is necessary to prevent injury to international relations or national defence or national security.” Auger denied the request, stating that this instance did not meet the threshold set out in Section 486.
Auger did, however, give a strong warning to the individuals participating on Zoom that they would be removed if they caused any disturbance. His words were proven when, shortly after proceedings began, a person online was heard laughing and Auger admonished and had them removed.
At the conclusion of Thursday’s testimony and arguments, Auger said that he would reserve his decision until Friday morning, Jan. 26, 2024, citing the amount of material he had to consider and the complexities of the case.
As on the previous two hearing occasions, two of Scott’s adult children were in the courtroom on Friday, and appeared distraught over the Justice of the Peace’s decision.
Scott, age 57, was arrested Thursday, Jan. 4, 2023, at a residence “in the downtown area.” But the arrest was made difficult for police when Scott “became combative and attempted to flee from officers,” Kingston Police said.
In a press release on the day of the arrest, police said that the investigation began in June of 2023 after an initial complaint was received. As the investigation unfolded, investigators were able to identify six additional complainants, Kingston Police said.
The scam involved the accused man accepting money from the complainants “with the promise of a large sum in return,” police detailed, noting that these types of schemes are often referred to as advance-fee scams, and “In two of the investigations the accused told the victims he was an OPP officer.”
As a result, Scott has been charged with 25 criminal offences ,including 16 charges of either ‘fraud exceeding $5,000’ or ‘fraud not exceeding $5,000. Other charges include:
- Personating a peace officer
- Resisting arrest
- Escape from lawful custody
- Laundering the proceeds of crime
None of the charges have been proven in court.