THUNDER BAY — The former mayor of Thunder Bay went on trial Monday on a charge of extortion.
Keith Hobbs, his wife Marisa, and local resident Mary Voss were all charged by the OPP in July 2017.
The initial court indictment alleged that they had used "threats, accusations or menace of disclosing criminal allegations to the police" against another individual in an effort to force him to purchase a house for Voss to live in.
Keith and Marisa Hobbs were also charged with obstruction of justice, but in September 2018 the crown attorney's office announced it would not be proceeding on that charge.
In a Thunder Bay Courtroom on Monday, Crown attorney Peter Keen presented his opening statement before Brampton-based judge, Justice Fletcher Dawson.
The Crown will call up to 14 witnesses and in his opening statement, Keen said extortion is an "ugly crime to prosecute," before detailing some of the evidence he plans to call throughout the case.
The evidence will involve several video tapes to be shown before the court that include graphic language and aggressive actions. Text messages from the accused and the victim will also be presented to the court from cell phones seized from the parties involved as part of the investigation, as well as statements given to police.
According to Keen, the emphasis of this case will largely depend on who was 'driving the bus' when it comes to the allegations of extortion involving the purchase of a house, the three accused or the victim.
Keen said the evidence will show that Keith and Marisa Hobbs and Voss attempted to extort the victim into purchasing a house for Voss valued at more than $400,000 by threatening the victim with the release of a video in their possession.
According to Keen, a text message between Voss and Marisa Hobbs indicated that there were concerns these actions could be seen as extortion and that Keith Hobbs should not ask for any money.
It was also revealed by Keen that the Hobbs' were in financial difficulty in October 2016 and were offered money by the victim on several occasions.
Craig Loverin, who is known to the victim, was the first Crown witness called to testify and he is expected to continue his testimony Monday afternoon.
Keith and Marisa Hobbs are represented by high-profile Canadian defence lawyer Brian Greenspan, while Voss is represented by local defense lawyer, George Joseph.
A publication ban is in place to protect the identity of the victim.