4 min

Man sentenced for fraud

Richard Lee Maracle used chat lines to meet victims

Kristina Roic, a freelance writer for Capital Xtra, is the winner of the $1,000 first prize in the 2005 Fraser MacDougall Journalism Awards competition for articles about some aspect of freedom of expression.

Roic’s entry discussed differences of opinion on whether Osama bin Laden’s book, tentatively called The al-Quaeda Reader, due out next year, should be widely available.

The annual competition is named for the late Fraser MacDougall, former Ottawa bureau chief of Canadian Press and first executive secretary of the Ontario Press Council, sponsor of the awards, which are open to journalism students at Ontario colleges and universities.

Roic recently graduated from the Carleton University journalism program.

Ottawa’s Pride Committee is far from the only local festival to gush red ink.

Sure, the local hosts of the annual Pride Parade owe some $120,000 and recently defaulted on a loan, causing city hall to have to step in. But check out the Bluesfest in comparison. The annual music festival gets about $44,000 from city hall (compare this to the $4,000 maximum that Pride has ever received from city hall). And it’s still chalked up a huge deficit.

The Ottawa Citizen reported Jul 23 that by August, 2004, Bluesfest had liabilities of $676,281 against assets of $381,519 – with just $35,202 in the bank.

A 33-year-old man pled guilty Jul 22 to multiple charges of fraud, some involving members of Ottawa’s gay community.

Richard Lee Maracle was sentenced to six months in jail for one set of charges and four months in jail for the second set of charges, to be served concurrently. Charges included theft over $5,000 and fraud under $5,000.

Police say Maracle used chat sites such as to initially gain his victim’s trust and then would persuade them to cash cheques, which would bounce, leaving the victims without the cash they had given him.

In 2001 Maracle served time for similar offences, including forging documents. The Ottawa Police Service estimates the total combined loss for Maracle’s 2001 offences were in excess of $10,000.

In sentencing for the most recent charges, the court could not order Maracle to seek treatment. Maracle could be released from prison as early as November, 2005.

A 24-year-old Ottawa man will appear in court Sep 21 after pleading guilty to sending a threatening letter to a local gay organization.

It is expected Albert Matthew Johnson will be sentenced after the courts hear results of psychological assessment.

In March, 2004, the Gayline got a letter with the message, “Gays will die tonight” in ransom-style, cutout letters along with a photograph of an unknown man.

The man in the photo was later identified by police, who confirmed he had also received a letter. Police told media the man was an acquaintance of Johnson’s.

Pink Triangle Services temporarily shut down the Gayline and the Kelly McGinnis Library as a precaution on the night they received the threatening letter.

Johnson pleaded guilty Apr 28 to uttering death threats.

Three new board members are in, vacancies remain and two key executive members have resigned following an upheaval on the Pink Triangle Services board of directors.

President Keith Duncanson and treasurer Sandi Bonini resigned early this summer after a series of fractious meetings. Ruth Dulmage remains vice-president.

Three new women board members have been added: Emily Troy, Cynthia Shelswell and Lisa Ostapyck. Troy recently worked as an outreach coordinator for Canadians For Equal Marriage. She also works at Family Service Centre and Miniwaashin Lodge in the aboriginal women’s centre. Shelswell moved to Ottawa a year ago from Halifax, where she was involved with the formation of a women’s centre and a women’s radio program on community radio. She works for NDP MP Ed Broadbent. Ostapyck is a new face to queer activists. A materials manager for the Canadian Mint, she is said to bring strong organizational, business management and human resource skills to the PTS board.

Not all new board members are queer.

As many as three board spots for men and one for women remain unfilled.

The changes leave the board with a shortage of executive members with PTS board experience.

Remember the headlines this past spring when New York city health researchers announced a new HIV superbug – one that resists most medications used to treat HIV and progresses to full-blown AIDS in a fraction of the usual time. Remember it being used by anti-sex ideologues as an excuse to close bathhouses and tell gay men to couple up?

Turns out there was no superbug.

Dr Gary Blick told Foxnews Jul 25 that the man who made headlines for a rapid onset of AIDS does not have a unique strain. Instead, researchers believe, he may have a genetic vulnerability to HIV. And his heavy use of crystal methamphetamine – a drug that impairs the immune system – and frequent barebacking may have played a role.

Winnipeg’s queer monthly is on a collision course with media giant CanWest Global over the name Swerve.

The queer not-for-profit Swerve has been in operation for more than 10 years, while CanWest’s Swerve, an entertainment and lifestyle weekly, was launched last December by the Calgary Herald.

This week queer Swerve is serving notice on corporate Swerve claming that, although they never registered the name, Canadian trademark law recognizes their ownership and gives them protection.

“A simple Google search would have showed them we exist,” says Swerve editor Richard Wood. “We’re claiming that they didn’t do due diligence to confirm the name wasn’t already in use. That there can be confusion between them is also a grounds.

“In the short term we could coexist but, in the long term, we can’t share the name,” says Wood, who points out that Swerve is distributed outside of Winnipeg and has plans for expansion.