Linda O’Leary faces fine, not jail time in fatal boat crash, Public Prosecution Service now says

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Linda O’Leary faces fine, not jail time in fatal boat crash, Public Prosecution Service now says

Linda O’Leary, the wife of celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary, is not facing jail time after all, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada announced Thursday.

O’Leary was charged last month for her alleged role in a fatal boat crash on Ontario’s Lake Joseph, where the O’Learys have a luxury cottage.

Prosecutors said at the time that O’Leary, who was charged with careless operation of a vessel under the Canada Shipping Act, was facing a maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment and $1-million fine.

Her lawyer, Brian Greenspan, has always maintained that the interpretation of the act was wrong and that, under the law, his client was facing at most a $10,000 fine and no jail time. On Thursday, the PPSC announced that Greenspan was correct.

“After careful review of the act, the Crown determined that the PPSC’s initial position on maximum allowable penalties was not accurate,” Nathalie Houle, a spokeswoman for the service wrote in an email. The PPSC is now “of the opinion that the maximum applicable penalty for a pleasure craft’s contravention of s. 1007 of the Small Vessel Regulations is $10,000.00.”

The confusion appears to have stemmed from the different penalties applicable under the act for commercial versus pleasures crafts. “If you go to the shipping act, it’s not quite as intuitive and it’s not quite as clear cut,” Greenspan said. “You have to do some homework.”

Still, Greenspan said he isn’t defending the PPSC. “It’s not as if it took us a week, it took us an hour, or 45 minutes to feel confident that we were right,” he said. “And it’s taken them a month to realize that they were wrong.”

Linda O’Leary was driving her family’s speedboat when it collided with another vessel on a dark night on Hamer Bay, at the north end of Lake Joseph in Seguin Township, the northernmost tip of the Muskoka Lakes. Two people on the other boat, Gary Poltash, 64, and Suzana Brito, 48, were killed in the collision.

It’s taken them a month to realize that they were wrong

In late September, the Ontario Provincial Police announced charges against O’Leary and the driver of the other boat, Richard Ruh, a doctor from upstate New York. Ruh was charged with failing to exhibit the stern light on his vessel, which carries a set fine of $150. He’s fighting the charge, according to his lawyer.

Kevin O’Leary, who was the front-runner for the leadership of Canada’s federal Conservative party before dropping out of the race in 2017, is best known globally as one of the stars of the ABC show Shark Tank. Linda O’Leary, his wife of almost 30 years, is the vice president of marketing for the family’s wine business, O’Leary Fine Wines.

Linda O’Leary is to appear in court in Parry Sound on Oct. 31.

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