A.H. Pepall's Extradition and Trial

AuthorC. Ian Kyer
A.H. Pepall’s
Extradition and Trial
I  1924, while the Smith/Jarvis trial was being con-
ducted in Toronto, A.H. Pepall was in police custody in Cal-
ifornia. This is not what the Ontario attorney general’s oce
had wanted. Several months before, in the spring, McRuer had been
sent to California to bring Pepall back to be a defendant in that trial.
That, however, had proved much more dicult than they had hoped.
Pepall had refused to return voluntarily, saying that the charges were
a “frame-up.”1
Without his cooperation, bringing Pepall back was no easy mat-
ter. There was then no extradition treaty between Canada and the
United States because Canada, as part of the British Empire, was not
yet sovereign in matters of foreign af‌fairs. This would only come in
1931 with the enactment of the Statute of Westminster.2 Canada had
no ambassador in Washington, and the Ontario government had even
less formal status. All of this meant that McRuer had to work through
the UK government using the Extradition Convention of 1889 between
the United States and Great Britain and its various extensions.3 Extra-
dition required a petition by the British government to the US gov-
ernment through diplomatic channels. As Lester Pearson would
later write, the process of acting through the British government
was “awkward, time-consuming and inecient.4 But McRuer had
The OnTariO BOnd Scandal Of 1924 re-examined
an even more fundamental issue. Under the UK/US treaty, extradi-
tion was available only for a listed series of serious of‌fences, including
murder, kidnapping, robbery, and forgery.5 Serious theft and fraud
were on the list, but despite Justice Meredith’s later characterization
of the charges against Smith and Jarvis as theft or fraud, that is not
what they had been charged with when McRuer went to California.
Conspiracy to defraud, which was the initial charge against Smith
and Jarvis, was not on the list of extraditable of‌fences.
McRuer, unable to have Pepall extradited for conspiracy, con-
sulted with US government ocials and his superiors in Ontario. It
was thought that the avenue used against Charles Matthews might be
open to them. They had alleged that Matthews had been a fugitive from
justice when he entered the United States; therefore, his entry had been
illegal. When faced with deportation, Matthews had returned. It was
decided that McRuer would allege that Pepall had also been a fugitive
from justice when he entered the United States.6 In neither the Mat-
thews case nor the Pepall case was there any basis for such an alleg-
ation. Pepall and his family had spent several months in California
(from 15 June to 14 September) in the summer of 1920.7 This had been
recommended by Pepall’s doctor because of the health of his wife and
daughter.8 When this seemed to help, he and his extended family had
moved to California permanently in June 1921.9 He had not f‌led Canada.
At the time when he and his family made that move, they had no idea
that three years later there would be allegations of wrongdoing in the
bond repurchases. He had not slipped away quietly. He had informed
his friends, bank, clubs, and business associates of the move. Many
had come to the station to see him of‌f.10 Initially, he and his family had
rented a furnished home, not knowing if they would stay. In 1922, he
had bought a large home in what is now historical Los Angeles11 and
had established a glass business.12 Rather than avoid Canada, he had
returned in the summer of 1923 to visit family and friends and to spend
time at his cottage in Muskoka. He might have done the same thing in
the summer of 1924 if McRuer’s visit had not occurred.
Nevertheless, in May 1924, McRuer registered a formal complaint
against Pepall. Despite the fact that there was no truth in anything he
said, McRuer alleged the following:

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