Facing multiple charges of fraud over $5,000, Steven Venditello has been running from facing trial for the past seven years, with the determination of — as one court judge describes it — a cat fleeing a bath.
“At first blush,” Superior Court Justice Sean Dunphy said, it would certainly appear as if Venditello’s constitutional right to a trial in a reasonable time has been violated.
But as it’s now known, with Dunphy condemning Venditello’s scam, the case was delayed not by any third party force, but Venditello’s own hand — repeatedly hiring and firing his counsel hoping to prolong his case.
“Mr. Venditello has proved himself a veritable virtuoso at exploiting the fervent desire of the justice system to facilitate his right to counsel to create delay for his own ends,” Dunphy wrote in a decision released last week.
Initally Venditello was charged in November 2009 with fraud over $5,000 in connections with allegations of defrauding an elderly couple for the tune $340,000. The next seven years would see a series of lawyers from different firms shuffle through Toronto courtrooms on Venditello’s behalf — and sometimes Venditello would show up unrepresented — leading to more than 60 court appearances in a case which has yet to go to trial. (Dunphy said the trial is now finally set for July.)
Gary Baatsar, long-time acquaintance of Venditello, stated that he had various communication with the accused before his trial was set to begin, but never actually retained for counsel. John Cristie, a lawyer currently representing Venditello mentioned that the main reason for the trial’s delay was permitting yet another lawyer to remove himself as counsel of record in 2013 because he was going to start a new job outside the province.
“What was needed was someone from the Crown’s office to call b——- on Mr. Venditello and say ‘Your case is now two years old, you’re going to come back tomorrow, and we’re going to figure out how much time this is going to take, and you’re going to set a (preliminary inquiry).’”
Christie said he intends to appeal Dunphy’s ruling.
Read the full story over at the Toronto Star.