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Niagara police charge two men in ongoing theft, fraud investigation near St. Catharines

Niagara police have charged two men with offences related to fraud, theft, and uttering threats in St Catharines related to a fraud investigation of a West Lincoln business.
Niagara police have charged two men with offences related to fraud, theft, and uttering threats in St Catharines related to a fraud investigation of a West Lincoln business. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Two arrests in an investigation involving fraud and construction theft have connections with a company accused of links to organized crime, Niagara police say.

Niagara Police’s Central Fraud Unit say they arrested 46-year-old Steven Sardinha from Ancaster, Ont. on Wednesday after a “lengthy investigation,” charging him with six offences related to theft over $5,000, uttering threats and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

On Thursday, police say they arrested a second suspect from Cambridge, 58-year-old Grant Norton, in connection with the same investigation.

Norton is facing similar charges: theft over $5,000, uttering threats, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and resisting arrest.

READ MORE: Hamilton area MP calls for RCMP to investigate contaminated soil dumping case

Niagara police say the two men are a part of an ongoing investigation with Hamilton Police’s Major Fraud Branch and High Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) that started in January 2019, investigating alleged fraud and theft of construction equipment from a West Lincoln business, Havana Group Incorporated.

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Havana Group has been the subject of some controversy in recent months after Flamborough-Glanbrook Conservative MP David Sweet asked the RCMP to investigate the Waterdown Garden Supplies case, citing alleged links to organized crime.

Sweet wrote a letter in May to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair, saying the matter required “immediate attention of the government and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”

“The federal government needs to take serious action to target and eliminate organized crime in Hamilton before that violence becomes more widespread and innocent civilians get caught in the crosshairs,” said Sweet.

WATCH: Liberal MP says he has no knowledge of ‘bare trust’ real estate deal facilitated for alleged ‘drug boss’

Liberal MP says he has no knowledge of ‘bare trust’ real estate deal facilitated for alleged ‘drug boss’
Liberal MP says he has no knowledge of ‘bare trust’ real estate deal facilitated for alleged ‘drug boss’

The MP’s comments came after a group of residents living near Highway 5 in west Flamborough complained about contaminated soil being dumped at the Waterdown Garden Supplies in addition to receiving threats when they tried to produce evidence.

“There was good evidence that there was a lot of toxic material that was coming in and it continued to escalate to the point where a number of my constituents have been threatened.” Sweet told Global News. “You know they tried to take video for evidence and actually had people approach them and threaten her safety.”

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Ontario’s environment ministry is investigating allegations involving Havana Group Supplies, whose one minority owner is alleged to be Hamilton mobster Pat Musitano.

READ MORE: Ontario government introduces legislation to curb illegal soil dumping

In May, the Ontario government announced proposed legislation stiffening penalties for illegal soil dumping.

Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly said the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan would not only prevent illegal dumping in Flamborough but also illegal dumping in other rural areas across the province.

“I have been working with residents and Ministry staff to address concerns of alleged illegal dumping at [Waterdown Garden Supplies Ltd],” said Skelly.

“The proposed changes will not only prevent illegal dumping in Flamborough but also illegal dumping in other rural areas across the province.”