The Big Hole & The Big Court Case

Below is the story on the court case about the Big Hole from today’s Toronto Sun….  And in case you missed it, here is yesterday’s story about how three jurors were excused for researching the story on the internet.

Businessman torched his store: Crown
 SAM PAZZANO, TORONTO SUN

Businessman John Magno masterminded a plot to burn his Woodbine Building Supplies store on Christmas Day 2001 to solve his financial problems, a Superior Court jury heard Tuesday.

In his opening to the jury, Crown attorney Derek Ishak alleged that Magno,  fraud artist Sam Paskalis and Adrian Roks ochestrated a arson that would enable Magno to collect a $3 million insurance claim and help him build condos on his 2055 Danforth Ave. site.  The plot backfired when the gas fumes prematurely ignited. It resulted in a devastating blaze that killed Tony Jarcevic, 22, and left Paskalis clinging to life in a medically-induced coma. He is now permanently disfigured, said Ishak.  The inferno required 170 firefighters and 40 fire trucks and prompted the evacuation of more than 50 families.

Magno, 51, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, arson and second-degree murder charges.  Ishak and co-counsel Anna Tenhouse alleged that Magno and his brothers bought the Woodbine Building Supplies (WBS) building and land in 1998.  Financial problems dogged the Magnos, court heard.

WBS owed its parent company more than $500,000 and a former employee $40,000. In September 2001, Magno decided to demolish WBS and build condos. Inventory was hauled to the Magnos’ warehouse at 111 Sunrise Ave. and prior to Christmas, the bulk of that inventory had already been moved.  The mounting financial pressures forced Magno to concoct a plan to torch his property, alleged Ishak.  In July 2001, Magno had befriended Sam Paskalis, a fraud artist, whom Magno had bailed out of jail.

Magno, Paskalis and his close friend Adrian Roks created a plan to burn down WSB so that Magno could collect a $3 million insurance policy, alleged Ishak.  Paskalis and Roks recruited some friends to execute the arson scheme. They picked Christmas Eve since the store closed early that day, court heard.  Magno was the last to leave the store with Paskalis behind to send the plot into motion, said Ishak.  In the early evening, the remaining conspirators hauled away leftover merchandise as their reward for their participation.  Both the sprinkler and alarm systems were disabled. A half hour after midnight, the fire was lit but it roared uncontrollably. Tony Jarcevic — who had taken courses in fire protection — was killed.  The trial continues Wednesday.

Small Business Workshops

Elizabeth Verway is offering a business training series of workshops for small business owners.  Elizabeth has been mentoring small business owners in this community for 14 years through the Office Mentors.  There are four workshops in the series:

  •  Business Communications (June 6)
  •  Cash Flow & Money Matters (June 13)
  • Networking and Sales Strategies (June 20)
  • Planning for Business Growth (June 27)

Workshops will take place near Coxwell and Danforth.  The full series is $100 to community members and free to BIA members.  Call Elizabeth Verwey to register 416-463-1713

The Danforth East Arts Fair

The Danforth East Arts Fair will be held at East Lynn Park on September 17 and 18, 2011. The application deadline is June 15th.  If that’s your bag, baby, you might want to think about being an exhibitor at the Beach Studio Tour in October.  If you would like to open your home to visitors or just want to know more, contact info@beachstudiotour.ca or 416- 691-5195

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