Man charged in alleged $7.8M Ponzi scheme drowns in B.C. before Edmonton fraud trial

Kathleen Treadgold and Curtis Quigley were jointly charged with 80 counts of fraud over $5,000 by the Edmonton Police Service.  (Glow Juicery Kelowna/Instagram - image credit)
Kathleen Treadgold and Curtis Quigley were jointly charged with 80 counts of fraud over $5,000 by the Edmonton Police Service. (Glow Juicery Kelowna/Instagram - image credit)

A man accused of operating an alleged Ponzi scheme has drowned in a B.C. river, seven months before his criminal fraud trial was set to start in Edmonton.

Curtis Quigley, 56, and his former common-law spouse Kathleen Treadgold, were jointly charged last summer with 80 counts of fraud over $5,000.

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) alleged that the $7.8-million scheme was ongoing for 12 years, with hundreds of victims in Alberta, B.C., the U.S. and Australia.

The allegations against Quigley and Treadgold have not been proven in court.

The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating Quigley's death, a spokesperson told CBC News. He drowned on June 20 in the Okanagan River near Okanagan Falls, a community about 60 kilometres south of Kelowna.

The Okanagan Falls Volunteer Fire Department responded to the rescue call, but Tony Iannella, chief of the nearby Willowbrook Volunteer Fire Department, said he also showed up to help.

Iannella told CBC News that two witnesses at the scene said the man was walking two dogs along a trail by the river, just south of Skaha Lake, when the dogs saw a deer and jumped into the water to chase it.

It happened near an area where there's a concrete drop structure, similar to a dam. The witnesses said the dogs got caught in it and the man went in after them.

Iannella said that by the time he arrived, one of the witnesses had already pulled the man out of the water and Okanagan Falls firefighters were performing CPR. Iannella said he helped them continue until paramedics arrived and said the man couldn't be revived.

Quigley had been out on bail after turning himself in to Edmonton police in August 2023.

When a person facing criminal proceedings dies, the charges against them are stayed, meaning the prosecution is discontinued.

Alberta Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson Michelle Davio said the prosecutor in the fraud case is still waiting to see a death certificate, so a stay has yet to be issued.

"In the cases of deceased individuals, ACPS will stay charges once death verification is complete," Davio said in a statement. "As we are awaiting appropriate confirmation that the accused is deceased, the charges remain active."

Treadgold's charges are also still active, according to the Crown prosecution service. It's unclear what impact Quigley's death might have on the case against her, as a co-accused.

"As with all files, the ACPS assesses on an ongoing basis whether there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction and if the matter is in the public interest," Davio said.

"If at any time the available evidence does not meet this standard for prosecution then the file may be stayed, withdrawn or changes to the charges."

An EPS spokesperson said the investigator in the case is aware that Quigley has been reported deceased, and is awaiting more details on how the Crown will proceed.

Trial set to start in 2025

Quigley previously lived in Kelowna, but EPS started investigating him because the alleged scheme led investors to believe their funds would go toward purchasing homes in and around Edmonton, and profits would come from real-estate flips.

He was declared bankrupt by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in 2021 after a woman sought a bankruptcy order against him, saying he'd failed to repay about $1.6 million he owed her.

In a Ponzi scheme, people hand over money believing that it will be used in legitimate investments, often with the promise of large returns. Behind the scenes, the money actually goes toward paying other investors who have also been promised profits.

Quigley and Treadgold's criminal trial had been scheduled to run from Jan. 13 to May 30, 2025 at the Court of King's Bench in Edmonton, according to court information.

Court documents show that earlier this year, Quigley still didn't appear to have a lawyer, with "accused to get counsel ASAP" noted as a judicial direction after a hearing Feb. 13 of this year. His most recent court appearance was a week before he died.

More than 80 people and businesses are named as alleged victims in the full list of charges in the case.