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Former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington risks jail for probation violation

Peter Pocklington, the former owner of the Edmonton Oilers, arrives at the United States District Court for sentencing in Riverside, California October 27, 2010.


Peter Pocklington, the former owner of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team, is due in a California courtroom on Friday for a hearing that could end with the 71-year-old facing jail time.

A judge in California ruled Monday that the 71-year-old had violated the terms of his probation by submitting an inaccurate monthly income report, a task he was ordered to complete following a conviction for perjury.

U.S. assistant attorney Tony Raphael explained Thursday that Pocklington didn't adequately disclose a $15,000 consulting fee he received in January 2012.

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Judge Virginia Phillips is to hear sentencing arguments on the case on Friday in Riverside, near Los Angeles.

Raphael couldn't reveal what penalty he'll be asking for, although it's possible Pocklington could receive prison time.

Defence lawyer Brent Romney has filed some exhibits for the sentencing hearing, hinting that he will recommend Pocklington not be put behind bars.

They include a letter from the doctor treating Pocklington's wife of 40 years, Eva. It said she suffered congestive heart failure in April and received a pacemaker earlier this month.

"Our children live in New York and Canada and they are not available to assist me in taking care of my wife," Pocklington wrote in a court declaration.

"As such, I am my wife's primary caregiver."

The case dates back to 2008, when Pocklington filed a bankruptcy claim stating he was virtually penniless, with less than $3,000 in the bank and liabilities approaching $20-million (U.S.). The following year, the FBI raided his home in Palm Desert, near Palm Springs, and put him under arrest.

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He later admitted in court that he had declared bankruptcy without disclosing that he had control over bank accounts and storage facilities containing assets and property of his wife.

In 2010, Pocklington pleaded guilty to perjury for lying during previous bankruptcy proceedings. In exchange, charges of bankruptcy fraud were dropped.

He was sentenced to six months of house arrest and two years probation.

He was also ordered to turn over property and file tax returns for previous years when he claimed he had no income.

But he was not required to pay restitution to creditors, including the Alberta government, which loaned the businessman money to prop up his meat-packing company in 1988. A Canadian court later ruled that Pocklington owned the province $13-million.

It's still trying to get back its money.

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Earlier this year, Pocklington and an associate were ordered to pay more than $5-million (U.S.) to settle a securities fraud case in Arizona.

The Arizona Corporation Commission said Pocklington told at least 120 investors they had mineral rights to a mine near Quartzite, Ariz., that would be churning out gold. But it found that the estimates of gold riches were not supported with methods currently available in the industry.

Pocklington grew up in London, Ont., and parlayed a used car business into a financial empire that came to include pro hockey. Known as "Peter Puck," he dined with celebrities and golfed with U.S. presidents.

He left Edmonton for California more than a decade ago, leaving behind angry creditors and hockey fans still heartbroken over the infamous trade that sent Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings.

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