Trio ran 'organized criminal enterprise,' judge told
The trio of men arrested in downtown Kamloops this month was cruising the Interior with 45 fraudulent credit cards and a list of B.C. electronics stores, a judge heard during a July 13 court appearance.
Sergey Kaspirovych, 23, Artyum Pasternak, 24, and 29-year-old Dennis Ranuk are each charged with counts of fraud over $5,000, possession of stolen property over $5,000, identity theft, obstructing a peace officer and dealing with an identity document without excuse.
Kamloops Mounties referred to them as “Russians: following their arrest, but two of the men — Kaspirovych and Ranuk — are actually Ukrainian.
Pasternak is originally from St. Petersburg, Russia.
They appeared in Kamloops provincial court for a bail hearing, during which time the Crown outlined its case.
The men were arrested on Thursday, July 5, after staff at the Lansdowne Village London Drugs called Mounties to report suspicious activity.
Crown prosecutor Chris Balison said London Drugs’ regional security team flagged the men after two incidents at other stores earlier in the day — one in Kelowna and one in Vernon.
When officers entered the downtown Kamloops store, court heard, Pasternak took off on foot inside the store. He was eventually subdued by police.
Kaspirovych was also inside the store, Balison said, and he took off running outside. He is alleged to have dropped a handful of phoney credit cards down a sewer grate as he fled.
He was arrested moments later.
Mounties found Ranuk in the parking lot, court heard — along with a grocery bag full of credit cards, that list of B.C. electronics stores and a stolen laptop and camera.
“Inside the vehicle, there were some 45 credit cards — Visa, MasterCard and American Express — in names other than the accused,” Balison said.
“These three individuals seem fairly organized in how they were going about this.
“It appears they were going from town to town in what I’ll call a criminal enterprise, buying high-end electronics for their own personal gain.”
Court heard a search of the car, registered in Ranuk’s name, linked the men to a similar fraud at a Vision’s Electronics store in Kelowna.
Balison asked Kamloops provincial court Judge Stella Frame to detain the trio, given the fact none of them live in B.C.
Each of the men has been in Canada for a number of years, court heard. Kaspirovych, who lives in Quebec, even became a Canadian citizen in 2004.
Ranuk is a landed immigrant, and told court he is going into his second year in the University of Calgary’s engineering faculty.
Pasternak, meanwhile, was ordered deported in 2008 due to “criminality,” court heard. Balison said that deportation was stayed for a five-year period to give the Montreal resident a chance to “rehabilitate.”
He has a criminal record dating back to 2005, including convictions for robbery and assault causing bodily harm.
Frame agreed to release Ranuk and Kaspirovych on $2,000 cash bail, but ordered Pasternak be detained.
Defence lawyer Sheldon Tate told court it will likely take days for Ranuk and Kaspirovych to come up with the cash to secure their release.
They will be bound by conditions barring them from possessing any credit cards in names other than their own and forbidden from entering any London Drugs or Vision’s Electronics stores in B.C., in addition to a strict curfew.
All three are due back in court on Aug. 7, at which time it’s expected they will enter pleas.