BY KEITH LACEY
More than 18 months after his arrest, the former financial adviser, accused of bilking investors of more than $6 million has started his preliminary hearing on more than 300 charges.
Pierre Montpellier had a busy day in court Tuesday as he opted to have his trial on 151 counts of fraud over $5,000 and 151 counts of theft over $5,000 heard before a judge and jury in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, should all matters proceed to trial.
Justice Yvon Renaud ordered a ban on publication of all evidence presented at the preliminary hearing.
After assistant Crown attorney Diane Fuller gave the judge an opening address detailing the evidence it intends to present during the presentation, Montpellier was moved from the Ontario Court of Justice to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for an application hearing.
The application hearing, before Justice Ian Gordon asked the court to allow Montpellier to hire a lawyer of his preference through Legal Aid.
If successful, southern Ontario lawyer Norm Williams told the court he would be willing to represent Montpellier at his preliminary hearing and during any future trial.
The application hearing was expected to take up most of Tuesday and there was no decision at Northern Life press time as to whether Gordon would allow Williams to be hired.
If the application hearing fails, itÂ?s expected the province will appoint a defence lawyer to represent Montpellier.
Wearing a neat blue suit, Montpellier told the court, through Williams, he waived his right to answer all 302 counts heÂ?s facing.
Montpellier was arrested in England on September 28, 2001 and has been in jail at the Sudbury District Jail since early October. HeÂ?s been denied bail on two occasions by a Justice of the Peace and Superior Court Judge, who both ruled they considered Montpellier too strong a flight risk, to allow him to go free under strict conditions until his trial.
Montpellier, 40, is charged with allegedly stealing $5.7 million from more than 100 investors, mostly from the Greater Sudbury area, between 1995 and when he left Sudbury for England in late 1998.
He was a licenced mutual fund and limited market dealer operating a company known as Montpellier Group Inc. in Sudbury from 1995 until his departure.
Police say during the same time period Montpellier incorporated Foreign Capital Corp. as an investment vehicle to raise money from investors to be used in international investments.
At the time of his arrest Montpellier had been working overseas for a London employment agency as a recruiter, matching clients with jobs.