TORONTO — For years, Peter Nygard offered himself as a rags-to-riches story: a multimillionaire who constructed a trend empire from nothing, hobnobbed with Canadian prime ministers and traveled between his luxurious houses on a personal jet, surrounded by girls a fraction of his age. And he was a contemporary Juan Ponce de León, claiming to have discovered the fountain of youth via weight loss program, train and common stem-cell infusions.
However in a Manitoba courtroom this week, his attorneys offered a really totally different image of the 79-year-old inmate, now dealing with extradition to the US and in search of to be launched on bail: He was outdated, sick, broke, lonely and prone to die in jail, the place he has languished for greater than a month and the place the coronavirus is raging.
In his personal affidavit, Mr. Nygard stated that since his arrest, “I get weaker on a regular basis. I’ve misplaced weight; have problem respiration (it’s getting worse); have suffered dizziness and fainting spells in addition to numbness in my palms and toes.”
He added that the jail meals, filled with sugar and carbohydrates, which he had minimize from his weight loss program, had made him “violently sick.”
His attorneys supplied a proposal for Mr. Nygard’s launch that they known as “rock stable,” however the decide stated she had “some severe points” with the plan, and with one guarantor specifically, earlier than agreeing to adjourn the case for an additional week, so Mr. Nygard’s attorneys may regroup and draft a Plan B.
Mr. Nygard faces costs of intercourse trafficking, racketeering conspiracy and different crimes, involving dozens of ladies and teenage women. A nine-count federal indictment, filed by the U.S. lawyer’s workplace in Manhattan in December, accuses the style magnate of utilizing his firm’s affect, cash and staff to recruit grownup and “minor-aged feminine victims” over a 25-year interval in the US, the Bahamas and Canada for his sexual gratification and that of his associates.
On the request of the US, police arrested Mr. Nygard on Dec. 14 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and he has been in jail ever since, awaiting the beginning of extradition courtroom proceedings.
At a bail listening to this week, Mr. Nygard’s attorneys proposed he stay alone underneath home arrest in Winnipeg, in a house he paid for final September, with common check-ins and a GPS ankle bracelet.
Showing in courtroom by video digital camera from jail, Mr. Nygard appeared a shadow of his former self. He wore a stained T-shirt; his trademark hair, usually coiffed in a silver mane, was tied again in a easy bun. His face, broadcast on an enormous display, was coated by a blue medical masks.
Up till final yr, Mr. Nygard was the top of a multinational girls’s trend firm known as Nygard Worldwide that he owned privately and constructed from scratch. It was identified principally for promoting leggings and tops to middle-age girls via its personal shops and malls, and at its peak, claimed 12,000 staff.
After federal authorities raided his dwelling in Los Angeles and company headquarters in New York final February, Mr. Nygard stepped down. His firm then filed for chapter in Canada and in the US.
In courtroom, none of his 10 kids confirmed as much as assure that he would comply with any bail situations. As an alternative, two former staff “who know Mr. Nygard the perfect,” in line with his lawyer Jay Prober, supplied their properties as collateral. Collectively, they had been value round $950,000 — a fraction of the wealth Mr. Nygard as soon as flaunted, which in 2014 Canadian Enterprise journal estimated at $750 million.
Mr. Prober stated that as a result of Mr. Nygard not had entry to that cash, this was “the perfect he can do.”
Issues rapidly surfaced with the 2 males providing to ensure that Mr. Nygard would stay underneath home arrest. One among them, Steve Mager, has been convicted twice for cocaine trafficking and was previously related to the Hells Angels bike membership, in line with courtroom data. The opposite, Greg Fenske, was a director at Nygard Worldwide, who was painted by the prosecution as a crony for Mr. Nygard, used to shuffle the mogul’s cash as his firm went bankrupt. On one event, Mr. Fenske overpaid a California utility invoice by $60,000 after which demanded that or not it’s repaid to a special Nygard firm that had not filed for chapter.
Throughout cross-examination, Mr. Fenske admitted to deleting greater than 1,000 paperwork after the grand jury within the Federal District Court docket in Manhattan subpoenaed firm information in February, and Nygard Worldwide’s lawyer had instructed managers to protect all their data.
“There have been numerous issues along with his proof,” Justice Shawn Greenberg added, pointing to the e-mail deletions as proof that he didn’t comply with authorized orders, to not point out one other massive cash switch, which she discovered “very suspicious.”
The decide questioned how Mr. Fenske might be a very good guarantor for Mr. Nygard when he had no “pores and skin within the sport,” provided that the $710,000 home Mr. Fenske supplied as collateral was the identical one bought in September with Mr. Nygard’s cash.
On the listening to, Mr. Fenske stated he was supporting his former boss as a result of he believed “in Mr. Nygard’s innocence.” Since final spring, Mr. Fenske has managed the corporate’s chapter points for no pay, he stated.
Scott Farlinger, the federal government’s prosecutor, argued that Mr. Nygard was a severe flight danger who had entry to cash from his tangled corporations, a lot of which weren’t a part of chapter proceedings. The prosecution additionally pointed to Mr. Nygard’s historical past within the Bahamas, the place he has been convicted of each contempt of courtroom and failing to seem in courtroom. In 2019, a decide issued a warrant for his arrest.
A police search of Mr. Nygard’s assistant’s telephone “indicated that not less than as just lately as April 2020, Nygard was contemplating journey to Malta or Bermuda,” in line with a courtroom doc. It additionally stated that he was “contemplating the logistics of touring underneath an alias.”
Mr. Nygard’s attorneys countered that if his plan was to flee he would have executed it final yr when he realized the F.B.I. was investigating him, however as a substitute he let his passport expire. In any occasion, “with Covid, there may be nowhere to go,” stated Mr. Prober.
The pandemic, Mr. Nygard’s attorneys argued, made it troublesome to assemble a plan with their shopper in jail, the place the virus has contaminated 213 inmates since final March. The illness additionally fashioned the crux of the argument for his or her shopper’s launch on bail.
As just lately as two years in the past, Mr. Nygard performed in seaside volleyball tournaments and plastered pictures of himself — along with his glistening, bulging biceps — on billboards throughout Winnipeg. However now, he described himself as the perfect goal for the illness — outdated, frail with a bunch of comorbidities, together with Sort 2 diabetes and fluctuating blood strain.
For now, he’ll stay in jail for not less than one other week. His subsequent appointment in courtroom is ready for Jan. 28.
“Nygard is combating for his life,” stated Richard Wolson, one other lawyer representing Mr. Nygard. “His well being is a downward spiral.”
Kim Wheeler contributed reporting from Winnipeg, Manitoba.