City accused of trying to bully Penticton homeless man by taking case public | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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City accused of trying to bully Penticton homeless man by taking case public

Paul Braun, centre, along with his lawyer Paul Varga, left, getting words of encouragement from a passerby in January 2018.
May 07, 2018 - 8:00 PM

PENTICTON - The City of Penticton's decision to take its court case against a local homeless man public is being called a "political move" by his lawyer.

A media release posted to the city's website last week includes a letter to Paul Braun's lawyer with what is characterized as the city's final offer, in what appears to be an effort to avoid a trial. The letter to defence lawyer Paul Varga calls it a “reasonable offer that can be characterized as a sweetheart deal.”

“How many times have you heard the city say they can’t talk about something because it’s before the courts?" Varga says. "Behind closed doors sessions remain behind closed doors sessions to protect the sanctity of the process.”

Varga says it appears the city is trying to bully his client into doing what they want him to do.

“I’m disappointed the city has chosen to stoop to this level. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth when it comes to how the city treats its citizens,” Varga says. "I see it as a public relations move to show how reasonable the city is being, while Mr. Braun isn’t. Well, Mr. Braun is the one facing penalties, not the city. I think it’s within his rights to test the evidence and see what’s going on, and we haven’t got to that stage yet.”

Varga says Crown prosecutor Tony DeSouza’s arguments “suck and blow at the same time,” noting how DeSouza complained about the media attention the case was receiving in January when Varga and his client’s photo appeared in the media.

“He’s complaining about the media attention this has gotten so far, yet he’s trying to use that attention to gain advantage. He’s never asked for a publication ban, and it’s important to note during court proceedings last week, the judge stopped DeSouza before he could reveal details of the offer, over concern about what was in those details and using the media as a bargaining tactic,” he says.

Varga says his concern has been and will continue to be the fair treatment of his client. He plans to look at the evidence he has received from Crown and see which way to go next.

“This is much more serious than a civil case, as jail time could be a penalty if Mr. Braun is found guilty. It needs to be treated that way. Posting bargaining positions online isn’t doing that.”

Find past stories on the Paul Braun case here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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