Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pigeon King court delays

Arlan Galbraith, the self-styled Pigeon King, is probably months away from a trial to deal with a charge of fraud and several of violating bankruptcy law.

The charges came up again in Ontario Provincial Court in Kitchener today and the issues were put over to Jan. 18.

Judging by comments by Galbraith’s lawyer, Paul Williams, there will be another adjournment on Jan. 18 because he said he is still consulting with Galbraith on some issues and there are more pre-trial meetings to be held between him and the crown attorney.

Waterloo Region Police laid charges against Galbraith after more than a year of investigations and interviews with investors who bought breeding birds either from Galbraith directly or later from his Pigeon King International Inc. company.

Some, such as officials in Iowa, have described Galbraith’s business as a Ponzi scheme, meaning that the system pays only as long as new investors can be found and eventually that supply dries up.

Galbraith sold breeding pairs with a promise, or contracts, to buy back offspring at prices far above meat value.

Eventually the market for breeding stock would be saturated and the pigeons would need to be sold as meat birds, but so far that is a small market.

Galbraith told investors he had plans to build a plant to slaughter and process pigeons, but construction never began.

Meanwhile, he persuaded thousands of people to invest in pigeons, starting in Ontario and spreading west as far as Alberta and south into Pennsylvania, Ohio and Iowa. Old Order Mennonites were a significant percentage of the investors.

Officials in Iowa made him stop on the basis that they felt the business was a Ponzi scheme.
Galbraith put Pigeon King International Inc. into voluntary bankruptcy, stranding his contract clients with no market for their birds.

Later some of those who invested directly with Galbraith, before he incorporated Pigeon King, pushed him into personal bankruptcy.

Galbraith ran the business out of an office in Waterloo, but now has returned to his former home territory near Cochrane in Northern Ontario.

The bankruptcies took two of his homes, one in Waterloo and the other Sacred Dove Ranch near Cochrane.