Two B.C. men, including a full-patch Hells Angel gang member, will learn on Nov. 30 if they will be extradited to the United States to face trial in a $35 million fraud scheme.
Courtney “Court” Vasseur and Curtis Lehner were in court for a week-long extradition hearing from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3, as their lawyers argued they should not be sent to face charges resulting from an FBI investigation.
Both men are due back before Justice Catherine Wedge at the end of the month for her decision.
The anti-gang B.C. Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) has identified Vasseur as a Hells Angel and a member of the gang’s elite Nomad chapter.
Vasseur and Lehner allegedly orchestrated “numerous pump-and-dump schemes,” according to the indictment in New York State.
Vasseur, Lehner, German-Turkish citizen Hasan Sario, and Domenic Calabrigo, a Canadian living in the Bahamas, were all collectively accused of a conspiracy that manipulated the stock of at least nine U.S.-based companies, resulting in proceeds for the four men of about $35 million.
Pump and dump schemes are stock frauds, usually using almost-worthless penny stocks. The perpetrators buy up a large amount of cheap stock in a company, and then use various means to make it seem more valuable, thus pumping its price.
These methods can include fake trades back and forth between members of the conspiracy, and exuberant promotion of the stock’s alleged potential via social media, investor newsletters, and on stock trader forums.
Once the stock has gone up in price sufficiently, it gets dumped, with the perpetrators selling their stock at the new, higher price, and leaving the new buyers with almost-worthless stock.
The FBI investigation claimed that Lehner went by the alias of Santa, while Vasseur was known by a variety of identities, including Black Water Resource Management, Cyrill Vetsch, and Arctic Shark.
Vasseur, Lehner, and the others are each charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, multiple counts of securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Several of the charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Vasseur has never been convicted of a crime in British Columbia, and has never been charged with fraud or any financial crime.
However, for several years he was an employee of Matthew Brooks, a Langley roadbuilder who was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in 2017 after he pleaded guilty to a $6 million bank fraud that took place a decade earlier. Kirk Roberts, Brooks’ co-accused, said during his sentencing that Brooks was an associate of the Hells Angels.
When he spoke to the Langley Advance Times in 2022, Brooks was adamant that Vasseur was not involved in the bank fraud.
“He doesn’t have any of that money,” Brooks said.
Brad Muller, a Florida-based businessman who says he lost more than $2 million to Brooks between 2009 and 2011, not knowing Brooks was then under investigation for the fraud that would send him to prison, encountered Vasseur during that time. Muller says he reported the Hells Angel’s involvement in Brooks’ business to the RCMP.
Police agencies in Canada have refused to comment on whether or not Vasseur was ever under investigation related to Brooks financial dealings.
People charged with crimes are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.