Extortion attempt draws 20-month house arrest

A Maple Ridge man who pleaded guilty to the attempted extortion of his uncle was sentenced to 20 months house arrest Thursday.

A 30-year-old Maple Ridge man who pleaded guilty to the attempted extortion of his uncle in Chilliwack was sentenced to 20 months house arrest in B.C. Supreme Court Thursday.

By court order, the accused can be identified only by his initials, A.K., and no information that might identify the 45-year-old victim may be published.

A.K. and two other men, Shane Bradley Werner and Casey Sean Corbett, both now 22 years old, were charged in September, 2009 with conspiracy to commit extortion.

Werner pleaded guilty in June, 2011 and A.K. pleaded guilty in January, 2012. Corbett is still at large.

The 20-month conditional sentence order is not considered unusual in extortion cases where no one is injured.

After pleading guilty to the extortion charge, and receiving a positive pre-sentence report, A.K. was sentenced by B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Grist.

In addition to conditions that include a curfew, a firearms prohibition and mandatory drug counselling, A.K. was also fined $250 for possession of heroin.

According to court testimony, the three men hatched a plan in September, 2009 to extort $500,000 from A.K.’s uncle, and a series of phone calls was made demanding payment with warnings not to go to the police.

But the victim immediately called police who started recording phone calls made by the extortionists.

In one of the first calls, the caller described himself as an “associate” of the Hells Angels who had information that the businessman had three businesses “doing well … and they want your money.”

“I just make the phone calls, my bosses they do everything else,” the caller said in a second phone call.

“If you don’t answer the phone, or you call the cops, there’s going to be big trouble,” the caller warned.

In a third phone call, the victim told the caller that he only had $250,000.

“I was told to tell you to have all of it today, and we’ll pick it up tomorrow,” the caller warned. “If you have this ready for tomorrow that will be the end of it, you won’t have to worry about us ever again.”

The next day, Sept. 30, the victim told the caller he had the full amount, and he was told to drive to the 200th Street exit where he would get another call directing him to the delivery site.

“After that you have our assurance you will be safe,” the caller said. “If you don’t, then you won’t be able to make it home.”

“I’ve done this to many other people and they are fine,” the caller added. “Nobody ever gets hurt when they pay.”

The victim followed instructions, but police were also at the Langley delivery site, and arrested all three suspects.