Ricardo G. Federico In The News

Alleged fraud case involving Hamilton firefighter starts in Milton

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FEATURED: The Hamilton Spectator | WRITTEN BY:  Nicole O’Reilly | March29, 2017

Two firefighters jointly charged with 2 counts of fraud over $5,000, money laundering
and attempting to obstruct justice.

Grieve and Atkinson John Rennison / Composite,The Hamilton Spectator/Facebook Hamilton firefighter Colin Grieve, seen on the left in his basement office in 2005. Warren Atkinson, 52, of Newmarket, taken from his Facebook page.

Grieve and Atkinson | John Rennison / Composite,The Hamilton Spectator/Facebook
Hamilton firefighter Colin Grieve, seen on the left in his basement office in 2005. Warren Atkinson, 52, of Newmarket, taken from his Facebook page.

MILTON — A brief appearance by a lawyer marked the first day in court for a pair of firefighters, including one from Hamilton, who are accused of defrauding a fund meant to help families of firefighters killed or injured on the job.

Warren Atkinson, 52, of Newmarket, and Colin Grieve, 58, of Stoney Creek, are jointly charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, money laundering and attempting to obstruct justice.

They did not appear in Milton court Wednesday after signing designations for their lawyers to appear on their behalf.

Halton police allege the pair kept about $250,000 in donations for themselves — money that was supposed to go into the Ontario Professional Firefighters Association (OPFFA) fund that helped with WSIB claims related to firefighters with cancer.

Halton police have described the case as complex, with fraud investigators following a money trail for more than a year. Court heard there are more than 6,000 pages of evidence to disclose.

The pair travelled across Ontario doing advocacy work for the OPFFA between May 12, 2011 and Feb. 26, 2014.

It was a complaint by a firefighter’s widow that prompted the investigation.

Outside of court Rob Hyndman, president of OPFFA, called the criminal charges “a promising step forward to get a (resolution) to a very unfortunate incident.”

He said it’s important for the OPFFA to be present in court, where it hopes to see the full scope of the case as the trial unfolds.

An agent for Grieve’s lawyer, Ricardo Federico, and Atkinson’s lawyer, Gary Stortini, declined comment outside court.

Apart from the criminal case, the OPFFA is suing the pair for $4 million.

Grieve and Atkinson filed a $12-million counter claim alleging a “malicious smear campaign.” Neither case has been proven in court.

The criminal case returns to Milton court April 26.