After years of delays, the Regina trial of a woman accused of $5 million of fraud is underway.
Alena Pastuch was charged in 2014 with fraud, theft and laundering the proceeds of crime. She is accused of defrauding investors in Western Canada of nearly $5 million over a span of seven years.
Police began an investigation into Pastuch and her business dealings in 2010 after three separate investors filed complaints against her.
Pastuch pleaded not guilty to all three charges Monday morning.
She is representing herself in the case.
First witness called
Crown prosecutor Dana Brule called his first witness on Monday afternoon. RCMP Staff Sgt. Jason Sauve was part of the commercial crimes unit between 2006 and 2014.
Sauve said his investigation started on Apr. 27, 2010 when three separate complaints came in from people claiming their were victims of Pastuch.
Sauve told the court that by the end of his investigation in 2014, more than 40 people had invested with Pastuch or her associated companies.
Sauve said the complainants believed they were investing in tech companies promoted by Pastuch, including computer security, anti-spam and online child protection. He said one investor made an $85,000 investment in a computer security company known as Crypt Guard in January 2007.
The officer went through a number of documents showing incorporated companies with Pastuch as either the director or president ranging from 2006 to 2010.
Application request delayed
Pastuch made an application to the judge Monday for third party records to be produced for use in the trial proceedings.
Pastuch said she did want to proceed until the application was decided by the judge. She said the documents would show, "errors and omissions."
Justice Richard Elson did not dismiss the request. He said he would postpone a decision, as he wanted to hear the evidence first.
"I have deliberately shut my eyes and ears to the facts of this case," Elson said, noting he has "zero" present knowledge of the case.
Crown prosecutor Dana Brule told Elson relevant documents have been disclosed to Pastuch.
"Everything in the crown's possession has been turned over to Ms. Pastuch," Brule said.
"This case has been delayed long enough. I think this trial has to proceed and it has to proceed today," Elson said.
Requests for new lawyer and publication ban denied in Sept.
In September, Pastuch requested what would have been her fourth court-appointed lawyer since proceedings began. Her most recent lawyer, Cory Wilson, withdrew from proceedings September 10, which was the day the trial was supposed to begin. He advised the court that there had been an irreparable breakdown in their relationship.
The Crown said that if the court were to grant her another lawyer, there would likely be problems with that one as well.
Justice Richard Elson denied the request for a new lawyer.
At the same court appearance in September, Pastuch requested that the trial be conducted under a publication ban. She said that news coverage of court proceedings up to that point had been detrimental to her reputation. That request was also denied.
The trial is scheduled to last three months.