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March 14, 09


A Canadian businessman who used to own the Edmonton Oilers hockey team was arrested this morning at his Palm Springs-area home on charges of bankruptcy fraud for allegedly concealing assets during bankruptcy proceedings.

Peter Hugh Pocklington, 67, of Palm Desert, was arrested without incident this morning at his residence by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A two-count indictment returned under seal last Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Riverside and unsealed today accuses Pocklington of making false statements in bankruptcy, and making false oaths and accounts in bankruptcy.

In conjunction with his arrest, FBI agents executed search warrants at Pocklington’s residence in an exclusive development called The Lakes, and at two storage units that he controls.

Pocklington filed for personal bankruptcy in United States Bankruptcy Court in Riverside in August 2008. In his bankruptcy petition, Pocklington indicated that he had debts of approximately $19.6 million, but that his assets totaled essentially only $2,900, a figure that included $300 worth of clothing and shoes. The discrepancy raised suspicions that he was not disclosing all of his assets to the Bankruptcy Court, according to a search warrant affidavit that was also unsealed today.

The indictment alleges that Pocklington failed to disclose to the Bankruptcy Court two bank accounts at Palm Desert National Bank (PDNB) for which he has sole signature authority, as well as the contents of the two storage units in Palm Desert. In the seven months immediately preceding a September 2008 hearing in his bankruptcy case, Pocklington allegedly wrote a series of checks on a PDNB account in the name of “Dempsey Investment Corp.,” an entity that he failed to mention in the bankruptcy petition.

Court documents also allege that Pocklington, in an effort to partially satisfy a court judgement against him, gave a creditor a piece of art, a rug and a desk that were collectively worth approximately $80,000 and were located in one of his storage lockers.

Pocklington is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside. If he is convicted of the two counts in the indictment, Pocklington would face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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