Judge delays decision as Peter Nygard’s lawyers fight bail denial
A judge has reserved her ruling in former fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s appeal of an earlier decision denying him bail, following his arrest on allegations of racketeering and sex offences.
Manitoba Court of Appeals Justice Jennifer Pfuetzner withheld her decision after hearing arguments virtually Thursday from Nygard’s defence team, which wants him released from Headingley Correctional Facility, just outside of Winnipeg.
Another judge rejected Nygard’s bail request last month.
The 79-year-old was arrested in mid-December on numerous charges filed by a Southern District of New York court, including racketeering and sex trafficking. He faces the possibility of extradition to the U.S.
No allegations have been proven in court.
Nygard’s condition has worsened considerably since he was taken into custody, his doctor said in an affidavit filed as part of the bail application.
- Peter Nygard has aged dramatically in jail, at increased risk of stroke or heart attack, doctor says
On Thursday, one of Nygard’s lawyers, Brian Greenspan, told court Nygard remains at risk of severe health outcomes, including those due to COVID-19, if he remains in jail. There are currently no known active cases of the illness in Headingley.
In February, Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Shawn Greenberg acknowledged Nygard’s health risks, but ultimately denied bail. She wasn’t satisfied that a bail plan tabled by Nygard’s lawyers would keep him or an associate from contacting victims or witnesses.
Greenspan said there has to be a “substantial” likelihood of tampering with witnesses, not just a possibility, to justify keeping Nygard behind bars.
He also argued there have been material changes in the case since Justice Greenberg’s decision, and accused U.S. prosecutors of overreach and “inflammatory” rhetoric that has “fuelled a media frenzy.”
Greenspan said the number and nature of allegations that appeared in a provisional arrest request along with bail letters authored by U.S. prosecutors, which influenced Greenberg’s decision, were not entirely reflected in a subsequent record of the case that’s since been filed.
The previous two documents contained details of offences and allegations that spanned 25 years, and included charges of racketeering, sex trafficking conspiracy, sex trafficking, transportation of a minor for prostitution, and transportation for prostitution.
U.S. authorities made a formal extradition request in February.
Canada’s Minister of Justice issued an authority to proceed — which authorizes an extradition hearing, and is the first step in the extradition process — but did so based only on the sex trafficking offence, which is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Greenspan suggested that weakens the extradition case and argument against granting bail.