Support increased dramatically: witness

The mother of Chris Uitvlugt’s children told Justice Larry O’Brien on Monday that the support payments she received from him increased from $750 to $11,000 to $12,000 a month in the latter part of 2016, coinciding with Next Level Investments opening offices on Princess Street in Kingston.

Kirstie Saxton-Robinson, 24, said it didn’t occur to her that he was doing anything illegal, however.

Saxton-Robinson was testifying in Kingston’s Ontario Court of Justice at the trial of Jordan D. McGregor, an associate of Uitvlugt’s and one of the investors in Next Level Investments, which later operated as Next Level Capital Group but never registered with the Ontario Securities Commission.

Uitvlugt, who was identified on Facebook as Next Level’s CEO, was charged with fraud, possession of proceeds of crime and conspiracy after police raided the operation’s 1309 Princess St. office in March 2017. His case is still before the courts.

McGregor is on trial for possessing proceeds of crime in connection with a bundle of cash, part of which was delivered to Saxton-Robinson a day or two after Uitvlugt’s arrest.

Saxton-Robinson testified that Uitvlugt had their children for the day on March 14 last year but brought them back early, some time between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and told her only that he was going to the police station and “he would give Jordan money and I would get it.”

By then, she told Justice O’Brien, she regularly received $6,000 on the first of each month and “another five or six [thousand] around the 15th.”

But she said “no one brought money to my house,” so she reached out to McGregor via Facebook.

She told the judge that he replied that he’d “passed along the money” to somebody else to give to her, “and then he blocked me.”

She told the judge she was subsequently contacted by Cory Macdonald, a local businessman and investor in Next Level, who declined to meet with her in person. “He didn’t want me to know what he looked like,” she said. Instead, he told her that he was going to Wild Wing restaurant at the Kingston Centre and would leave the money for her in his SUV.

Saxton-Robinson said she went to the parking lot on March 15 or 16 around noon, found Macdonald’s unlocked vehicle and retrieved a Walmart bag containing the cash from the front passenger seat.

She told the judge when she counted it there was between $40,000 and $46,000 inside, which she took home and put in her closet.

The next day, she said, police came and seized the cash.

McGregor’s lawyer, Leo Adler, questioned Saxton-Robinson about what she thought was going on, and she told him she initially believed Next Level had some sort of licensing problem.

Then later, “I felt like if he [Uitvlugt] was going away, my kids should be taken care of.”

She denied threatening McGregor over the cash but admitted she was “upset” when it wasn’t delivered.

She agreed she’d texted him that she was going to get a lawyer, but disputed that it was in response to him saying he needed legal advice about the cash.

She also agreed that she’d sent an email to one of the officers involved in the case, complaining about how she was characterized by Macdonald in his testimony last week. The officer, she confirmed, told her not to worry because Macdonald had deviated from his original statement.

But he didn’t talk to her about the case beyond that, she said.

In his closing argument, Crown prosecutor Alexander Hrybinsky said Next Level Investments and Next Level Capital Group were represented to potential investors as “high risk, high reward.”

It’s been the prosecution’s contention since the company’s offices were raided last year, however, that the whole operation was a Ponzi scheme that simply paid early investors with later investors’ money.

It purported to invest in foreign exchange markets, earning extremely high rates of return. But a police review of the company’s trading accounts found little evidence of actual trading and a net loss on what trading there had been.

Hrybinsky told the judge that the day Uitvlugt turned himself in to police, someone left his home at 12:27 p.m. carrying a rectangular package believed to have contained the money that was supposed to be delivered to Saxton-Robinson.

Later that day, he said, McGregor handed that same package off to real estate agent Louis Tavakoli.

And he suggested that Tavakoli, Macdonald and McGregor all considered the possibility that the money was illegitimate.

Adler argued that there were rumours, but said there’s no evidence,  that his client knew that police had been to Uitvlugt’s Fisher Crescent home on March 14.

Uitvlugt, he said, had told everyone it was “just some misunderstanding.”

He also noted that “it’s Cory [Macdonald] and Louis [Tavakoli] who ultimately makes the decision to release at least some of the money to Kirstie [Saxton-Robinson].”

Justice O’Brien will deliver his decision in the case later this month.