Gyula Kolompar, of Coquitlam, was released Tuesday in Vancouver by Immigration and Refugee Board member Leeann King. King said the ministry didn't provide enough evidence that the man was a flight risk, despite allegedly fleeing B.C. for Ontario last year after he and three family members were charged with running a Lower Mainland mail theft ring.
Kolompar pleaded guilty last week to four counts of fraud in connection with the operation, which cashed cheques from stolen mail. His wife and son have also been found guilty, and his brother is in immigration custody.
At a detention hearing Tuesday, Citizenship and Immigration Canada officer Kevin Boothroyd argued the 47-year-old Hungarian refugee is unlikely to appear for an admissibility hearing scheduled next month.
The government wants Kolompar kicked out of Canada on grounds he's a member of an organized crime group.
"Mr. Kolompar's flight from B.C. to Ontario at a time he was facing charges is a clear indication of his willingness and ability to go underground," Boothroyd said. "[His activities] show a propensity for ongoing complex criminal conduct."
Kolompar came to Canada in July 2000, making a refugee claim in Montreal and was accepted in May 2004.
Also convicted in 2005
In October 2005, Kolompar was convicted in Ontario of possession of stolen property over $5,000. As a result of that conviction, he was denied permanent resident status in 2009. He was charged with eight counts of fraud connected to the mail-theft ring in November 2011.
Kolompar was arrested at a traffic stop in Toronto in April, a month after RCMP issued a news release seeking the public's assistance in locating him.
The case provides a glimpse into communications problems between arms of the federal government. The Canada Border Services Agency issued a warrant for Kolompar's arrest in March 2012, shortly before Coquitlam RCMP issued their own news release connected to the criminal charges.
But his lawyer, Marvin Klassen, told the IRB Kolompar made no attempts to hide and was collecting welfare in Ontario the whole time authorities were supposedly searching for him.
"He was registered with social assistance and receiving funds from them the whole time he was in Ontario," Klassen said. "He had no idea a warrant was issued for his arrest."
After Kolompar was caught in Ontario in April, he was returned to Vancouver, where he has remained in custody.
According to admissions of fact entered in provincial court, the family fraud involved 30 Hungarian nationals who came to Canada and made refugee claims. The court was told that all 30 opened bank accounts and then abandoned their refugee claims, returning to Hungary and leaving their bank cards with the Kolompars.
Kolompar, his wife Katalin and Gyula Kolompar, Jr. then deposited 267 stolen cheques into the 30 accounts. They defrauded four banks of about $345,000 during a three year period, they admitted.
Last week, a provincial court judge sentenced Kolompar to time served plus one day. He was also handed 18 months probation.
At the end of an hour-long hearing Tuesday, King said the ministry hadn't proven its case.
"I haven't heard or seen enough relevant evidence to reach a conclusion that you'd be unlikely to appear," she told Kolompar. “I have no evidence of you being aware of warrants and trying to flee."
Kolompar's admissibility hearing is set for November 7.
King ordered him released on a $1,500 bond, provided by one of his sons, and on a promise to keep the peace.
Given the nature of the allegations, Boothroyd asked King to require Kolompar not to associate with "individuals who have engaged in criminal activity."
But King said she couldn't because his wife and brother were his co-accused.
"I have difficulty with the non-association requirement because of the allegations against family members," she said.
"Don't have any more negative interactions with the police," King told Kolompar.
“I will not do that, ever," Kolompar replied through a Hungarian translator.