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Trial begins for former P.E.I. pastor, others accused of defrauding Ontario senior

Harold Alan Stewart arrived at the Oshawa, Ont., courthouse for the start of his trial Monday, Sept. 10. Stewart, identified by police as minister of a church in Prince Edward Island, is accused along with two others of defrauding an elderly Oshawa widow of hundreds of thousands of dollars. - Ron Pietroniro /Metroland
Harold Alan Stewart arrived at the Oshawa, Ont., courthouse for the start of his trial Monday, Sept. 10. Stewart, identified by police as minister of a church in Prince Edward Island, is accused along with two others of defrauding an elderly Oshawa widow of hundreds of thousands of dollars. - Ron Pietroniro /Metroland - Contributed

By Jeff Mitchell Oshawa This Week/Metroland

OSHAWA, Ont. – Jury selection has begun for three people, including a former Presbyterian minister, accused of frauds that targeted an elderly Oshawa widow and a north Durham animal rescue operation.

Harold Alan Stewart pleaded not guilty Monday, Sept. 10, to several fraud-related charges. He along with Ashley Carlson and Alexsander Budimirovic, both of Oshawa, are accused of defrauding the woman between 2015 and 2016. Carlson and Budimirovic also pleaded not guilty during Monday’s arraignment.

After an investigation that concluded in late 2016, Durham police said the accused had bilked the senior, who was 89 at the time, of more than $100,000 through credit card and mortgage fraud.

Budimirovic is also accused of attempting to defraud the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Brock Township, according to the indictment read in court Monday.

Stewart, now 70, was pastor of a church in Prince Edward Island at the time of his arrest, according to Durham police.

Jury selection began Monday. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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