The scheme involved three steps: Steal cheques, make them out to yourself and forge a signature, go to a Money Mart and cash them.
While living in Edmonton around 2002, this was allegedly how Darcy Allan Sheppard, the cyclist killed in an accident involving former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant, padded his pockets. Edmonton police say Mr. Sheppard, 33, stole, forged and cashed about 17 cheques.
"How he obtained them, I don't know," said Staff Sergeant Bill Allan of the Edmonton Police Service. He added the cheques were small, some less than $100, and were part of a series of cheques that appeared to have come from the Canadian Multicultural Society.
Mr. Sheppard was 27 when he was charged with 56 counts of possession of stolen property, fraud and uttering a forged document, all under $5,000. Staff Sgt. Allan said he was released on bail in 2003, and Edmonton police never saw him again.
Six years later, two provinces away, Mr. Sheppard's next encounter with the law was something of a role reversal. What allegedly began as a minor collision between a bicycle and a convertible left the bike courier dead and Mr. Bryant facing criminal charges.
Mr. Sheppard was also investigated but not charged by police shortly before his death, according to neighbours near his girlfriend's apartment, where he attended a party Monday night, and police sources.
Mr. Sheppard's half-brother, David Roy Sheppard, 31, said Tuesday that he worried that his brother's brushes with the law would prevent justice from being served. He said he was frustrated that Mr. Bryant had been released from police custody. (The younger Sheppard brother is himself in police custody, serving a 4-year sentence for drug trafficking in a Winnipeg prison).
"It seems like he's getting special treatment because he's somebody that's somebody," David Roy Sheppard said in a telephone interview from prison in Winnipeg, referring to Mr. Bryant.
"If it would have been vice versa, if the person would have hit [Mr. Bryant]they would have been in jail and there wouldn't have been any release," said David Roy Sheppard's wife, Kelsie Smith.
They said Mr. Sheppard was the oldest of eight siblings, and had two daughters and two sons of his own.
Mr. Sheppard was an avid cyclist who was well known amongst Toronto's bike courier community.
"I guess they're having a fundraiser to help pay for having [Darcy's body]sent back to Edmonton," David Roy Sheppard said.
Mr. Bryant was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death.