TORONTO — For years, Peter Nygard offered himself as a rags-to-riches story: a multimillionaire who constructed a style empire from nothing, hobnobbed with Canadian prime ministers and traveled between his luxurious properties on a personal jet, surrounded by girls a fraction of his age. And he was a contemporary Juan Ponce de León, claiming to have discovered the fountain of youth by way of eating regimen, train and common stem-cell infusions.
However in a Manitoba court docket this week, his legal professionals offered a really completely different image of the 79-year-old inmate, now dealing with extradition to the US and looking for to be launched on bail: He was outdated, sick, broke, lonely and more likely to die in jail, the place he has languished for greater than a month and the place the coronavirus is raging.
In his personal affidavit, Mr. Nygard stated that since his arrest, “I get weaker on a regular basis. I’ve misplaced weight; have issue respiration (it’s getting worse); have suffered dizziness and fainting spells in addition to numbness in my fingers and toes.”
He added that the jail meals, filled with sugar and carbohydrates, which he had reduce from his eating regimen, had made him “violently sick.”
His legal professionals supplied a proposal for Mr. Nygard’s launch that they known as “rock strong,” however the choose stated she had “some severe points” with the plan, and with one guarantor specifically, earlier than agreeing to adjourn the case for one more week, so Mr. Nygard’s legal professionals may regroup and draft a Plan B.
Mr. Nygard faces expenses of intercourse trafficking, racketeering conspiracy and different crimes, involving dozens of girls and teenage ladies. A nine-count federal indictment, filed by the U.S. legal professional’s workplace in Manhattan in December, accuses the style magnate of utilizing his firm’s affect, cash and workers to recruit grownup and “minor-aged feminine victims” over a 25-year interval in the US, the Bahamas and Canada for his sexual gratification and that of his associates.
On the request of the US, police arrested Mr. Nygard on Dec. 14 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and he has been in jail ever since, awaiting the beginning of extradition court docket proceedings.
At a bail listening to this week, Mr. Nygard’s legal professionals proposed he dwell alone beneath home arrest in Winnipeg, in a house he paid for final September, with common check-ins and a GPS ankle bracelet.
Showing in court docket by video digicam from jail, Mr. Nygard appeared a shadow of his former self. He wore a stained T-shirt; his trademark hair, usually coiffed in a silver mane, was tied again in a easy bun. His face, broadcast on an enormous display, was coated by a blue medical masks.
Up till final 12 months, Mr. Nygard was the top of a multinational girls’s style firm known as Nygard Worldwide that he owned privately and constructed from scratch. It was recognized largely for promoting leggings and tops to middle-age girls by way of its personal shops and malls, and at its peak, claimed 12,000 workers.
After federal authorities raided his residence in Los Angeles and company headquarters in New York final February, Mr. Nygard stepped down. His firm then filed for chapter in Canada and in the US.
In court docket, none of his 10 youngsters confirmed as much as assure that he would comply with any bail situations. As an alternative, two former workers “who know Mr. Nygard one of the best,” in line with his lawyer Jay Prober, supplied their properties as collateral. Collectively, they have been price round $950,000 — a fraction of the wealth Mr. Nygard as soon as flaunted, which in 2014 Canadian Enterprise journal estimated at $750 million.
Mr. Prober stated that as a result of Mr. Nygard not had entry to that cash, this was “one of the best he can do.”
Issues rapidly surfaced with the 2 males providing to ensure that Mr. Nygard would stay beneath home arrest. Certainly one of them, Steve Mager, has been convicted twice for cocaine trafficking and was previously related to the Hells Angels bike membership, in line with court docket information. The opposite, Greg Fenske, was a director at Nygard Worldwide, who was painted by the prosecution as a crony for Mr. Nygard, used to shuffle the mogul’s cash as his firm went bankrupt. On one event, Mr. Fenske overpaid a California utility invoice by $60,000 after which demanded that or not it’s repaid to a distinct Nygard firm that had not filed for chapter.
Throughout cross-examination, Mr. Fenske admitted to deleting greater than 1,000 paperwork after the grand jury within the Federal District Courtroom in Manhattan subpoenaed firm recordsdata in February, and Nygard Worldwide’s lawyer had instructed managers to protect all their information.
“There have been plenty of issues together with his proof,” Justice Shawn Greenberg added, pointing to the e-mail deletions as proof that he didn’t comply with authorized orders, to not point out one other giant cash switch, which she discovered “very suspicious.”
The choose questioned how Mr. Fenske could possibly be a great guarantor for Mr. Nygard when he had no “pores and skin within the sport,” provided that the $710,000 home Mr. Fenske supplied as collateral was the identical one bought in September with Mr. Nygard’s cash.
On the listening to, Mr. Fenske stated he was supporting his former boss as a result of he believed “in Mr. Nygard’s innocence.” Since final spring, Mr. Fenske has managed the corporate’s chapter points for no pay, he stated.
Scott Farlinger, the federal government’s prosecutor, argued that Mr. Nygard was a severe flight threat who had entry to cash from his tangled corporations, a lot of which weren’t a part of chapter proceedings. The prosecution additionally pointed to Mr. Nygard’s historical past within the Bahamas, the place he has been convicted of each contempt of court docket and failing to seem in court docket. In 2019, a choose issued a warrant for his arrest.
A police search of Mr. Nygard’s assistant’s cellphone “indicated that at the least as lately as April 2020, Nygard was contemplating journey to Malta or Bermuda,” in line with a court docket doc. It additionally stated that he was “contemplating the logistics of touring beneath an alias.”
Mr. Nygard’s legal professionals countered that if his plan was to flee he would have completed it final 12 months when he realized the F.B.I. was investigating him, however as a substitute he let his passport expire. In any occasion, “with Covid, there’s nowhere to go,” stated Mr. Prober.
The pandemic, Mr. Nygard’s legal professionals argued, made it tough to assemble a plan with their shopper in jail, the place the virus has contaminated 213 inmates since final March. The illness additionally fashioned the crux of the argument for his or her shopper’s launch on bail.
As lately as two years in the past, Mr. Nygard performed in seaside volleyball tournaments and plastered photographs of himself — together with his glistening, bulging biceps — on billboards throughout Winnipeg. However now, he described himself as the perfect goal for the illness — outdated, frail with a bunch of comorbidities, together with Sort 2 diabetes and fluctuating blood stress.
For now, he’ll stay in jail for at the least one other week. His subsequent appointment in court docket is about for Jan. 28.
“Nygard is combating for his life,” stated Richard Wolson, one other lawyer representing Mr. Nygard. “His well being is a downward spiral.”
Kim Wheeler contributed reporting from Winnipeg, Manitoba.