A well-known Maple Ridge landlord was charged Friday with planning a murder.
Jagdev ‘Jack’ Singh Athwal was arrested last week and faces one count of counselling a person to commit murder.
“This is quite a unique case that involves serious allegations against Mr. Athwal. The investigation uncovered evidence that lead to charges surrounding a disturbing threat of a serious criminal nature,’ said Ridge Meadows RCMP Insp. Dave Fleugel.
Athwal, 71, has been released with conditions: that he not go within a two-block radius of Gordon Towers, located at 11980 – 222nd St. in Maple Ridge, and not contact four local residents, including a man who manages the building. Athwal is also prohibited from possessing firearms, an imitation firearm or explosives of any kind. He owns six apartments in Gordon Towers.
Fleugel said RCMP are keeping an eye on Athwal.
“As in all cases where an accused is released under strict court-ordered conditions, Ridge Meadows RCMP officers will be watching for any violations of the order. Our primary goal is to ensure public safety and the safety of the victims and witnesses in this case,” he said. Investigators have also spoken to residents of Gordon Towers.
“We do believe that by having the community aware of Mr. Athwal’s conditions, it increases the safety of the people involved in this case,” Fleugel added.
Athwal owns more than 30 rental units in Maple Ridge.
He was the former owner of Northumberland Court, a rundown townhouse complex.
That complex, located in the downtown core, was plagued for years by drug problems and prostitution until it was sold and demolished last October. He lost his business license as a result – a document which still remains revoked.
In December, a house owned by Athwal was boarded up after bylaw officers and the fire department found no smoke detectors, an unsafe furnace and holes in the walls. That property on 117th Avenue has yet to be fixed.
Athwal, who lives in a million-dollar home that overlooks the Fraser River, claims the murder-plot allegations against him are “false, completely false.”
He said the allegations stem from a dispute with a tenant, who was being evicted from Gordon Towers.
“I have to fight this case,” said Athwal.
“I don’t know why he would do this. It’s very shocking. I am very stressed out.”
Athwal appeared in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court on Thursday. Phil Riddell, his lawyer, asked for the matter to be adjourned until Aug. 30 while he discusses varying conditions on Athwal’s bail with the Crown prosecutor.