Accused Sex Trafficker Nygard’s Bail Request Gets Pushback
(Bloomberg) -- Canadian women’s clothing designer Peter Nygard asked to be released from jail, while a prosecutor expressed concerns about two former employees who offered to back a bond for the accused sex trafficker.
In the first day of a two-day bail hearing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Tuesday, prosecutor Scott Farlinger opposed releasing the retail magnate. Jay Prober, a lawyer for Nygard, argued that holding the 79-year-old during the Covid-19 pandemic “is nothing short of a death sentence.”
The Finnish-born Nygard, who founded Nygard International in 1967, was arrested in Winnipeg last month at the request of the U.S., which seeks his extradition from Canada on racketeering, sex-trafficking and related charges.
He took part in criminal conduct over 25 years, including using company money, resources and employees to traffic dozens of women and minors to force them into sex with him and his friends, according to a federal indictment in New York. The indictment cited a decades-long pattern of conduct involving dozens of victims in the U.S., the Bahamas and Canada, as well as elsewhere.
Nygard has denied the charges.
Cameras at Exits
Appearing by video on Tuesday, Nygard was projected on a large screen in the corner of the courtroom, his long gray and white hair tied back in a bun. He took notes throughout the hearing, according to a pool reporter.
Farlinger questioned Greg Fenske -- a former director of systems for Nygard who lost his job when the company went into receivership last March, and who offered to back a bond for Nygard’s release -- about his financial and decision-making roles at various companies owned by Nygard.
Fenske told the court he would make sure Nygard stayed home by visiting daily and calling the house land line and through cameras at its exits. He said he would call the police if he saw Nygard violating bail conditions. The home being offered for Nygard if he’s released on bail was the one where he was arrested in December.
Farlinger challenged Fenske’s description that Nygard was left with almost nothing, citing Nygard’s Bahamas resort, at an estimated value of $40 million.
In court documents, Fenske and Steve Mager, former director of construction for Nygard’s company, said they would be willing to put up a combined C$1.2 million (US$940,000) in assets to ensure Nygard’s appearance in court. Mager said under questioning that he had been convicted twice of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
Mager, who also lost his job after the company went into receivership, said he met Nygard while playing poker. Mager said the two are friends and speak daily. When asked if he thought it was odd that Nygard’s company transferred ownership of a Dodge truck to him in February 2020, Mager said others had also received vehicles in what may have been compensation in lieu of unpaid bonuses or work hours, according to the pool reporter.
Earlier this month, Farlinger called Nygard a flight risk, citing a history of contempt for the judicial process. Nygard is wanted in the Bahamas in a separate case after failing to attend a court hearing there.
In an affidavit filed in the Winnipeg court, Nygard said he had made no effort to leave Canada, allowed his passport to expire and told his lawyer to advise Winnipeg police that he would turn himself in upon request.
The case is U.S. v. Nygard, 20-cr-00624, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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