Assault raises concerns about accused cancer fraudster’s return to remand centre

The lawyer for a man accused of holding a fraudulent cancer fundraiser is unsure whether his client will be able to make his next court appearance on Friday as he remains in hospital following a severe jailhouse beating.

Now, defence lawyer Joel Chevrefils is assessing [The Accused] to see if he’s a “viable candidate” for a bail hearing as there are concerns about the accused fraudster returning to the remand centre.

“We’ll be appearing in court for him, but whether or not he’s able to appear will be up to medical professionals to make that decision,” Chevrefils said.

“But we certainly have some concerns about him returning to remand, and what the possible outcomes are for him.”

[The Accused], 28, was taken to Foothills Hospital after an unknown number of assailants entered his cell at the Calgary Remand Centre and assaulted him Sunday morning, said Chevrefils.

Prison guards eventually broke up the attack. But [The Accused] was left with a broken nose, a lacerated or bruised spleen, bruises on his back and torso, and two black eyes.

“He’s got a concussion, so he’s suffering from the effects of that,” Chevrefils said. “He’s also got some difficulties with vision out of his left eye.”

It’s possible [The Accused] may be moved to another hospital to see a specialist for his vision problems, his lawyer said.

It’s not known whether the attackers recognized [The Accused], he added.

“Right now, obviously he’s afraid for his own safety. He’s very afraid of going back to the Calgary Remand Centre.”

Chevrefils said he is waiting to receive disclosure from the Crown.

Cook is charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 after allegedly holding a fraudulent silent auction as a cancer fundraiser last year during which about $7,500 was raised in cash or donations by more than 100 people.

[The Accused] allegedly told friends he was battling brain cancer and needed money for treatments, his former friends told the Herald last month. He said he was ineligible for Alberta Health Care because he was born in Texas, the former friends alleged.

But friends soon grew suspicious about where the money was going and whether the man really had cancer, police said, adding investigators were soon notified and a probe was launched.

Police determined the man had not received treatment at any cancer facility in Calgary. It’s not known what the money was used for, but it did not go toward cancer treatment, police said.

[The Accused] was arrested in Victoria last week by police acting on a tip, and was returned to Calgary on Saturday. He was assaulted Sunday, ahead of his first scheduled court appearance on Monday.

Chevrefils said a member of the Calgary Police Service forensics unit came to photograph [The Accused]’s injuries Monday while Chevrefils was visiting him in hospital.

City police confirmed they are investigating an assault at the Calgary Remand Centre at around 9:45 a.m. Sunday, but declined to offer further details.

Michelle Davio, spokeswoman with the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, also confirmed there was an incident at the Calgary Remand Centre and that police were called, but would not offer specific details.

However, she said an internal investigation has been called, which is conducted anytime there is an assault at one of their facilities.

"They would look at what happened, what led to the event, what came after, the whole situation, to see if anything could be done differently or if anything could have prevented this,” she said.

She said there are cameras in the facility. She added all inmates who come in to the facility are assessed to determine the best place to put them so incompatible inmates aren’t placed together.