Friday, May 9, 2008

Finally Free, Home at Last

OTTAWA - Brenda Martin is finally a free woman.

Martin was released from a Kitchener prison Friday after being granted full parole. She had been held at the Grand Valley Institution for Women since returning to Canada last week after spending more than two years in a Mexican prison on fraud charges. Sitting in the passenger seat of longtime friend Debra Tieleman's car, Martin told reporters she'd been on pins and needles all day.
"When they finally called, actually when two guards came to the house, and (said) 'Your parole officer wants to see you,' I said 'Oh my God, maybe I'm getting out!"'
She thanked the "three heroes" in her life: her mother, Marjorie Bletcher; Tieleman; and a journalist who followed her plight.
Martin said she was headed to see her mother in Trenton, Ont.
"I'm just going to relax with my mom, and probably cook dinner for my mother and my stepfather."
Carol Sparling, a spokeswoman for the National Parole Board, said Martin is a first-time federal offender sentenced to a non-violent offence.
"Those offenders are reviewed with only one criteria, which is if there is reasonable likelihood of them committing a violent offence," she said.
"The board found that was no evidence in violence in this case and directed full parole release."
Parole documents cite a 1993 conviction for drunk driving but don't consider it germane to her current case.
A Mexican court found Martin guilty last month of involvement in a scam run by her ex-boss, former Edmontonian Alyn Waage.
A Mexican judge sentenced her to five years in jail and ordered her to pay a fine.
She has steadfastly maintained she knew nothing of Waage's fraud scheme, which bilked 15,000 investors out of nearly US$60 million.
Waage was arrested in 2001 and is serving out a 10-year sentence at a low-security federal prison in Butner, N.C.

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