The latest bizarre development in the epic poison pen scandal that contrasts the famous Toronto millionaire with the even more famous New York billionaire, took place Thursday afternoon in Toronto's small, narrow courtroom where various people made brief appearances on criminal charges.
David A. Smith was a strange one among the defendants who had gathered, and not just because he was not there. For one thing, he did not face a single charge, but more than 20, most of them criminal harassment, but also extortion and conspiracy against Toronto businessman Harold Peerenboom.
And then, after a brief comment from a prosecutor, they were all withdrawn.
Allegations relate to Smith's previous alleged participation in a scheme that opposed simple explanations, but involved a wide-scale distribution of abusive letters about Peerenboom.
Peerenboom was subjected to false accusations of rape and murder of children
This has been explained in legal documents as one of the extortion attempts masterminded by Peerenboom against American entertainment tycoon Isaac Perlmutter, or Perlmutter's attempts to harass Peerenboom and force him out of the Florida resort where they both owned homes, and where they had fallen due to disputes about pro local tennis.
Peerenboom is a colorful figure in Toronto's business history as the founder of executive search firm Mandrake Management Consultants, former chairman of the Toronto Port Commission, and was once a leading Liberal backroom player. He is personally famous, but has also made news for various legal disputes, including an episode in which he installed a spotlight to shine through the night in a neighbor's bedroom amid disputes about extending to his Forest Hill house, and also to buy a house his friend Conrad Black to rent it back.
Perlmutter is a financier and chairman of Marvel Entertainment, which was bought by Disney in 2009 for more than $ 4 billion. His net worth is estimated at more than $ 4 billion, and although he also maintains his privacy, he is known to be close to President Donald Trump and members of the Mar-a-Lago Club.
The two men have been involved in bitter feuds which are mostly played out in Florida courts, with sub-plots that sometimes occur in Toronto, such as the prosecution of Smith which has just ended.
The dispute, according to various media reports and court submissions, began with disputes about professional tennis players at Sloan's Curve, a gated community in Palm Beach. Peerenboom was involved in efforts to open a pro contract for a public tender, which Perlmutter opposed because he liked the current pro. There is also conflict about the ambitions of pro tennis real estate. This led to lawsuits and, somehow, to a campaign of widespread hate mail towards Peerenboom, obviously with the aim of forcing him out of the Sloan Curve.
Peerenboom was subjected to false accusations of child rape, murder, illegal DNA collection and many examples of abuse. Now deep into litigation, the dispute involved several prominent lawyers in the US, including Perlmutter's advisor Roy Black, who had represented Rush Limbaugh and Jeffrey Epstein, and Peerenboom's adviser Marc Kasowitz, who had represented Trump on the issue of Russian interference, and Russian olegarchy Oleg Deripaska.
None of the high-powered lawyers were at the Toronto College Park courthouse on Thursday when all the charges against Smith were withdrawn at the Crown's request. Crown assistant lawyer Alex Miranda told the court that the review of evidence, given Crown's duty to act in the public interest with reasonable prospects, led the prosecutor to conclude that the indictment must be dropped.
But another curiosity is that Smith has faced this same charge before, for what prosecutors call "substantially similar behavior," but asks them to remain in 2017 when he agrees to a peace bond, which prosecutors say he has obey.
Now the accusation is officially withdrawn.
Smith is a former Mandrake senior employee, the Peerenboom company, who was released in 2011, according to a court filing, because of a dispute about propriety information. He was reportedly caught up in a Perlmutter / Peerenboom dispute in 2016 when U.S. customs officials intercept a package sent from Toronto to Miami, which was later alleged by police to have been sent by Smith. That includes letters addressed to Peerenboom's wife, Robin, which correspond to others who have been sent anonymously to people in Peerenboom's life.
These people threatened to write to prison prisoners accusing Peerenboom of child abuse and inviting them to visit his property in Florida.
Other letters that falsely accused Peerenboom's role in the rape and murder of children were sent to family, friends and colleagues.
One ongoing dispute is about Peerenboom's efforts to extract DNA from confiscated letters, which Florida police say are beyond their means. Now there is a lawsuit over the use of a private laboratory to analyze DNA obtained from Perlmutter's wife, Laura, in a quiet way, by arranging for a lawyer to pass through special paper in deposition for a lawsuit, then taking DNA from the paper and from a water bottle taken from the room the trial. It has been reported that DNA is compatible, but also that the results were initially negative, and were sent elsewhere to match the results and substantiate false claims against Perlmutters.
These civil problems continue in the U.S.
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