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Arrest of alleged child kidnapper after 31 years gives hope to parents of abducted children: investigator

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A Toronto police detective says the recent arrest, in Connecticut, of a Canadian man accused of abducting his toddler son Jermaine Mann 31 years ago, is a flicker of hope for parents of abducted children.

U.S. federal agents said they found Allan Mann Jr. in Vernon, a Connecticut suburb, after receiving a tip from a relative that he may be living there under another name.

Allan Mann, who has dual Canadian and Ghanaian citizenship, was found living under the name Hailee DeSouza, federal officials said.

After running off with his 21-month-old son on June 24, 1987 following a visitation in Toronto, Allan Mann entered the U.S. — where he had relatives — and obtained fake identification for himself and his son, including bogus Texas birth certificates, officials said.

I think it gives hope to all parents out there who have had children abducted.– Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks

Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks of the Toronto police ROPE Fugitive and Bail Enforcement Unit says cases like this one are not common.

« This is believed to be the longest case in North America, if possibly not the world, where an abducted child is reunited with a parent where they’re both in safe condition, » Banks told CBC Toronto.

« It is a very rare occurrence, but at the same time I think it gives hope to all parents out there who have had children abducted. But it’s also a caution to people who have abducted children that time is not on their side, eventually they will be located and apprehended. »

Banks was not able to provide specific numbers, but he said there are other cases where children are abducted and taken, not just to the United States, but to other countries.

He said such fugitives go to great lengths to avoid capture and prosecution.

What’s next for Allan Mann

Banks said Allan Mann is still wanted by Canadian authorities but extradition proceedings from the United States would not begin right away.

« There is the original arrest warrant from 1987 for the abduction of Jermaine, but obviously the U.S. will have to prosecute their cases first, » he said.

« Depending on the results of the arrest, if there is a conviction, he’d have to serve out his federal time in the U.S. then upon his release that would then be up to the Canadian government and the U.S. government to work on extraditing Mr. Mann back to Canada to face the prosecution on the original child abduction case. »

Allan Mann appeared briefly Friday in federal court in Hartford. The Hartford Courant reported his son, Jermaine, sobbed quietly in the front row with his head in his hands and left the courthouse without commenting. Jermaine Mann had been told his mother died decades ago, the Courant reported.

He is detained on charges including making false statements in transactions with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It wasn’t immediately clear if he has a lawyer who could respond to the allegations.

Mother and son reunited

With the assistance of the Missing Children Society of Canada Jermaine Mann has been reunited with his mother, Lyneth Mann-Lewis, of Brampton, Ont., Banks said.

« They met with the mother and they actually flew her to the United States on the weekend so she can be united with her son, » he said.

« She’s met her son for the first time in 31 years, as well as for the son — he’s met a mother he never knew he had. So this is a very emotional and probably happy time for both of them from what I’ve heard. »

CEO of Missing Children Society of Canada Amanda Pick. MCSC has been involved with the case for 31 years and assistance Lyneth Mann-Lewis in reuniting with her son Jermaine Mann. (CBC)

MCSC CEO Amanda Pick says the case was registered with them two days after Jermaine went missing and their investigative team has partnered with police throughout the search.

Pick said it’s been has extraordinary couple of days.

To see hope last 31 years with a conclusion and a result of finding that child safely is a powerful thing.– Amanda Pick, CEO of MCSC

« I’m still trying to find the words to express just how powerful this conclusion is and the result of seeing a mother reunited with her son 31 years later, » Pick told CBC Toronto.

« I believe that hope is present in every single case when it comes to a family searching for a missing child, and so to see hope last 31 years with a conclusion and a result of finding that child safely is a powerful thing. »

Describing the case as « unprecedented, » Pick said never before has MCSC « seen that powerful, amazing conclusion » in a case and they are excited to have been part of it.

Lyneth Mann-Lewis and her son are expected to hold a news conference on Monday.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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