Peter Pocklington pleads guilty to perjury in bid to avoid jail time

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Federal prosecutors in the U.S. say former Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington has agreed to plead guilty to perjury in a bid to avoid jail time.

According to the plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside, Calif., Pocklington acknowledged that he concealed two bank accounts from a bankruptcy trustee and failed to disclose two storage units in Southern California.

The plea bargain calls for probation, including six months of home detention that could force him to wear an electronic monitor. The criminal conviction also means he could be deported back to Canada.

To partially satisfy a court judgment, Pocklington gave a creditor a piece of art, a rug and desk that were collectively worth about $80,000 and located in one of his storage units, court documents said.

According to the plea agreement, Pocklington must co-operate with the Internal Revenue Service in determining his individual income tax liability for the years 2006 through 2008. The agreement also stipulates that Pocklington make full restitution.

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Pocklington has also pledged to turn over two of his five Stanley Cup rings, and pay the U.S. taxes he owes.

Pocklington was arrested at his Palm Desert home in March 2009 on allegations he concealed assets during bankruptcy proceedings. If convicted of all felony charges, he could have faced up to 10 years in federal prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges Pocklington understated his assets when claiming they totalled just US$2,900, compared with $19.7 million in liabilities.

The plea agreement requires approval from a state judge.

No date has been set for Pocklington to enter his guilty plea, but it is expected that it will be prior to Pocklington’s scheduled trial date of June 29, U.S. attorney’s office spokesman Thom Mrozek said.

The Alberta government says Pocklington owes the province C$13 million related to meat packer Gainers Inc., which it seized from Pocklington in 1989 after the company defaulted on government loans.

—With files from the Associated Press