An operations supervisor at Casino Lac Leamy said in an Ottawa courtroom Thursday that former Liberal Congressman Raj Grewal got so excited playing blackjack four years ago that the incident was described in a security report.
Grewal was indicted by the RCMP in September 2020 on four counts of breach of trust and one of fraud over $ 5,000. His attorney said in a written statement Thursday that two of those charges were dropped by the Crown on Monday, the first day of Grewal’s trial.
As told by Nader Hasan a third charge was dropped before the trial even started.
“The prospect of a trial has hung over Mr. Grewal’s head for a long time,” Hasan said. “We will present a vigorous defence over the coming weeks, and we feel confident that Mr. Grewal’s complete innocence on these breach of trust charges will become clear for all to see.”
The trial will only be heard by a judge and is expected to last until the end of July. Grewal, who lives in the Toronto area, sat in court for the trial Thursday, silently behind his lawyers.
Grewal said goodbye to the liberals in the fall of 2018, just three years after he was first elected. He sat as an independent representative for Brampton, Ontario, and went through the 2019 election, in which he did not run.
Few days after his split with the Liberals, Grewal released a video statement saying he was addicted to gambling and had racked up millions of dollars in debt. He claimed that the debts had all been repaid, adding that nothing sinister had happened.
The RCMP launched a criminal investigation into Grewal’s gambling in 2017 after the Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (Fintrac) submitted suspicious transaction reports related to Grewal to the RCMP. The allegations filed in September 2020 stemmed from allegations that he had used his position as a lawmaker to solicit millions of dollars in loans that he had not disclosed to the ethics commissioner and that he had abused his MP’s budget.
The federal commissioner for ethics initiated an investigation into the Grewal revelations in early 2018, but the investigation was suspended when the criminal charges were filed and will not resume until the case is concluded.
Grewal, 36, said in 2018 that he started gambling “recreationally” after college, and in 2016, shortly after his election as an MP, he started frequenting Casino Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec, while staying at the adjoining hotel.
He confessed that recreational gambling turned into an addiction, for which he received treatment in 2018. During Thursday’s trial, Jacques Bouchard, supervisor for operations at Casino Lac Leamy, said he saw Grewal at the casino a few times, but at 11:30 a.m. on May 30, 2018, he saw Grewal playing blackjack and became very agitated.
Following the incident, he filed a security investigation report. The report included some of the comments Bouchard said he heard from Grewal, including that Grewal believed that if he got 19 or 20 points he should win.
“Come on, have an ace,” the report quoted Grewal that day. “Take all my money.”
The report also quotes Grewal saying, “Why didn’t I left after the first 100K?”
During cross-examination, Hasan Bouchard was able to admit that the quoted comments may not be perfectly accurate, noting that a native English speaker would not use the grammatically incorrect expression “Why didn’t I left.”
Bouchard said that might be the case, but added that English isn’t his first language. He testified in court with the help of an interpreter. The trial continues next week.