Mortgage fraud suspect Arnold Breitkreutz has received a “renewing” in his attempt to prove his innocence.
Judge Colin Feasby of the Queen’s Bench Court ruled on Thursday that an earlier guilty plea and admissions made to support that claim could not be used against Breitkreutz in his ongoing trial.
“In a general sense, I’m saying your client has a makeover,” Feasby told defense attorney Cale Ellis-Toddington.
“It’s getting a complete makeover.”
Feasby rejected a request by Crown Prosecutor Brian Holtby to consider as evidence both a guilty plea that Breitkreutz entered in March 2021 and the agreed facts read in court at that time.
Breitkreutz was later allowed to withdraw the appeal because he did not understand that a consequence of his admission would be that he could not appeal a crucial pre-trial decision admitting evidence that the RCMP seized from the Alberta Securities and Exchange Commission.
On Monday, Breitkreutz told Feasby he only made the admissions — including that his company, Base Finance Ltd., was a front for a Ponzi scheme — because he received bad legal advice.
The judge said that allowing the Crown’s evidence to include the fact that he pleaded guilty to the allegations and such admissions would be unfair.
He cited a New York case that noted that allowing evidence of a previous confession would force the accused to testify at his trial.
“An almost unavoidable consequence of admitting the earlier guilty plea is that the accused will have no practical choice but to position himself to explain the earlier guilty plea,” Feasby said.
He said the same issue applied in terms of the agreed facts recorded after Breitkruetz’s earlier appeal.
“There is little to distinguish facts from a guilty plea,” Feasby said.
The judge said that when Breitkreutz agreed to the facts written by the Crown, he was only considering his pending appeal and the lightest sentence he would get.
“Essentially, Mr. Breitkreutz agreeing with the facts proposed by the Crown was marking a box on the way to his appeal of a pre-trial decision.”
The judge also said that the fact that Breitkreutz was agreeing to the facts to get a lesser punishment was akin to the police inducing a confession by telling a suspect he would be treated more leniently by the courts.
“Induction (by the police) makes confession . . . unreliable,” she noted.
Breitkreutz’s trial, scheduled for two weeks, continues on Friday.