By Keith Fraser, Special to the Langley Advance
A UN gang associate from Langley, who is accused of being the mastermind of a campaign of terror against people linked to the Justice Institute of B.C., is expected to plead guilty to the charges.
In September, Langley’s Vincent Eric Gia-Hwa Cheung, 40, was arrested and charged with 23 counts related to a series of arsons and shootings targeting the homes and vehicles of police officers and others with ties to the New Westminster institution.
Pre-trial hearings were scheduled for October for Cheung and a trial date set for September 2017, but the accused now intends to enter guilty pleas in B.C. Supreme Court on July 21, his lawyer, Martin Peters, has confirmed.
Peters said he was reluctant to discuss the matter and would only say that he had had discussions with Crown counsel and his client.
“The intention on the 21st and 22nd is to put in a plea and have a sentencing hearing. As to how that came about, I can’t really get into that. It’s really completely caught up in my discussions with my client.”
Peters added that he and the Crown had reached an agreement on a proposed sentence for Cheung.
Though Cheung has been charged with 23 counts, Peters said he thinks the Crown may only proceed on 21 of those charges since several counts are “duplicates.”
Cheung remains in custody after being denied bail. It’s expected he’ll get 1.5-days credit for each day he has been on bail since his arrest 10 months ago.
Peters said that as far as he knows, Cheung’s co-accused, Thurman Ronley Taffe, 54, is going ahead with his trial. Taffe is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
At the time of Cheung’s arrest, police said that the charges came after there had been a security breach at ICBC leading to people at the Justice Institute being targeted. In total, 15 people were targeted from 2011 to 2012, with some having their homes and cars badly damaged from deliberate fires and gunshots. The victims all had connections to the New West-based school that trains police and emergency personnel.
ICBC said the employee allegedly involved in the security breach had been dismissed in 2011.
Police said in some cases the victims had simply parked their cars at the Justice Institute to take their children to a nearby daycare. Charges were laid following a four-year investigation.
Cheung, a resident of Langley, was the winner of a $2.4-million Shaughnessy mansion, a $60,000 BMW and $25,000 in tax-free cash in the B.C. Cancer Foundation Lifestyles Lottery in 2003. He said then that he was an auto mechanic and part-time bartender. But at the time of his arrest, police said he had ties to the UN gang that began well before he won the house.
– Keith Fraser is a Vancouver Sun reporter.
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