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Toronto police obtain nine new search warrants in Sherman murder investigation

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Toronto police detectives probing the murders of billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman have obtained nine more search warrants in the last month.

The warrants — police will not reveal what they were seeking or where the warrants were served — were authorized in the four weeks prior to a Sherman family press conference last week that criticized Toronto police for a shoddy investigation and announced a $10 million reward.

The new warrants suggest police may be ramping up their investigation into the pair’s killing.

According to court records obtained by the Star and statements made by Toronto police, detectives have obtained a total of 37 warrants and production orders since the probe began. Warrants allow police to search locations such as a house or business, production orders are for records maintained by banks and cellphone companies.

At least one warrant was served outside of Canada, but police and courts will not release details of where.

The Shermans owned property in Florida.

Barry Sherman was the founder of Apotex, Canada’s largest generic drug firm. He and his wife Honey were major donors to Jewish and other charities in Canada.

The couple was last seen alive on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Their bodies were discovered the following Friday morning by Sherman family real estate agent Elise Stern, who was showing prospective buyers and their agent the home on Old Colony Rd.

The Shermans were found near a lower-level pool. They had been strangled and pulled into a seated position, each with a man’s leather belt looped around their neck and fastened to the metre-high railing that surrounds the rarely used lap pool.

Police pursued a theory of murder-suicide for six weeks, before ruling it a “targeted” double homicide on Jan. 26. That came after police reviewed the results of a second autopsy conducted by David Chiasson, Ontario’s former chief forensic pathologist, who had been hired as part of a private investigation launched by the Shermans’ four children.

Last Friday, Greenspan and his private team, most of them former homicide cops, slammed Toronto police for what they say were failures in the investigation — locks at the home not checked for tampering, fingerprints and palmprint evidence not taken from the scene, and carpets not vacuumed to obtain minute evidentiary traces.

The team also announced a $10-million reward and a tip line directing callers not to police but to the family’s experts. Greenspan has told Toronto media that calls have been coming in, though he would not say how many.

While the police will not speak about what they have done on the case, the Star has learned some information about a series of search warrants and production orders authorized by Justice Leslie Pringle, the judge who has reviewed more than 220 pages police have submitted for warrant approval.

Read more:

Family of Barry and Honey Sherman offers $10-million reward for information on murder of billionaire couple

How the investigation into the deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman turned from murder-suicide to double homicide

Opinion | Rosie DiManno: A two-tier policing system is unveiled in the Sherman case

At the beginning of the investigation, police filed warrants for such things as the Sherman couple’s health records. Sources close to the investigation have told the Star police were seeking information that one or the other was depressed. Friends interviewed by the Star say the Shermans were both in good spirits the day they died and both were making plans for family events and winter trips together.

Police also sought information on two airline loyalty programs, cellphone records and details of bank accounts at three financial institutions, although Pringle has sealed the identities of the account holders in each of these warrants.

Apotex was also served with a warrant, and in the early days of the investigation police complained they were having difficulty getting information out of the often secretive company.

Pringle has sealed much of the information in the more recent warrants and production orders, saying she is concerned that revealing these details would jeopardize the investigation.

One law enforcement official connected to the case said these most recent warrants are “too specific” to be made public — an indication that detectives may be pursuing a theory on the identity of the killer or killers.

The Star is arguing in court to unseal this information.

Immediately following the Greenspan press conference, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said he has had to be careful with what he said about the case because he knows “for a fact” that the Shermans’ killers are watching his televised remarks, adding he was perturbed that Greenspan released some information related to the case.

Saunders said he was particularly bothered with some of the specific comments Greenspan made at the press conference about the crime scene. At the press conference, Greenspan described to reporters how Barry Sherman was found seated with one leg crossed over the other “in a passive manner,” with his eyeglasses “undisturbed” and his jacket pulled slightly back — a position the lawyer said refuted the theory of a murder-suicide. These details have already been published in accounts by the Star and other media, say people close to Greenspan’s team.

Chaisson’s post-mortem made it clear the Shermans were “were both murdered and that the Toronto Police Service should not have drawn any conclusion which suggested self-inflicted injuries,” Greenspan said at the news conference.

In his response, Saunders said Greenspan was incorrect. “Toronto police service never reached a premature conclusion. This investigation has been done to a very high level of professionalism and high level of expertise,” he said, adding that he believes the case will be solved.

“It’s not over yet. We are continuing to work very hard to reach the conclusion we think we can reach with the help of the public.”

A timeline of known search warrants and production orders in the Sherman murder case

There have been 37 search warrants and production orders obtained by Toronto Police in the Sherman case, according to court records, Chief Saunders and police spokesperson Meaghan Gray. Below are the date and location of the majority of them, according to court records obtained by the Star through a legal challenge. Justice Pringle has sealed almost all of the documents, with the exception of a few general search locations — she has, for example, allowed the identity of the bank to be known, but not the account holder.

Dec. 15, 2017: The Shermans’ bodies are discovered in their home

Dec. 20: Two production orders for Rogers Communications cellphone records and one warrant for a Toronto police storage locker on Jane St., where evidence from the crime scene was briefly kept

Dec. 20: A search warrant, address sealed

Jan. 10, 2018: Four search warrants, one for a police storage locker, the other locations sealed

Jan. 1: Production order served on Ontario Ministry of Health for Barry and Honey Sherman’s “billing records and records of visits to hospital and clinics” between December 2010 and Dec. 16, 2017 — the day after they were known to be dead

Jan. 15: Production order to retrieve materials in locker #51 at 33 Division, likely containing evidence officers seized from the Sherman house

Jan. 15: Production order served on Apotex, no details released on what police were seeking

Feb. 15: Production order served on LoyaltyOne Co., which operates the AirMiles loyalty rewards program, no details released on the account holder

Feb. 15: Production order served on Aimia, owner of the Aeroplan loyalty rewards program, no details released on the account holder

Feb. 15: Production order served on Office of the Chief Coroner to retrieve some medical records of the Shermans earlier obtained by the coroner under a Coroner’s Warrant

Feb. 15: Three Production orders served on BMO Financial Group, CIBC and TD Bank, no details released on the account numbers or holders

April 16: Four judicial authorizations granted, police will not say if warrants or production orders

June 27: Two judicial authorizations granted, police will not say if warrants or production orders

Sept. 23: One judicial authorization, police will not say if warrants or production orders

Between Sept. 23 and Oct. 26: Nine judicial authorizations, either warrants or production orders

Kevin Donovan can be reached at kdonovan@thestar.ca or 416-312-3503. Follow him on Twitter at @_kevindonovan

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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