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Two Romanian refugees who helped rob local restaurant given probation

Ontario couple Stelian Grancea and Florica Fardi were two of four Romanian immigrants who walked into Jame’s Chinese Restaurant around 7 p.m. on July 23, 2023 and helped a fifth accomplice steal money and receipts.
2019-03-15 Saskatchewan provincial court MG
Provincial Court of Saskatchewan.

Two Romanian refugees who have lived in Canada for almost two years and who helped rob a Moose Jaw restaurant won’t have a criminal record if they successfully complete their probation.

Ontario couple Stelian Grancea and Florica Fardi were two of four Romanian immigrants who walked into Jame’s Chinese Restaurant around 7 p.m. on July 23, 2023, and asked to be seated near the kitchen because they were expecting others, Crown prosecutor Rob Parker said in Moose Jaw Provincial Court on Feb. 22 while reading the facts.

At one point, Fardi purchased two Pepsis for $5 and attempted to pay with a $100 bill, but because the owner lacked the necessary change, she instead paid with the correct amount.

“‘At numerous times, they all walked toward the back and almost walked into the back office. I told them each time, they can’t come to the back and that they had to go and sit down,’” Parker said while quoting the co-owner. 

About 15 minutes later, a fifth individual walked into the business wearing a light grey vest and walked to the bathroom before going into the back office, the Crown continued. The co-owner yelled to her husband to apprehend the man because he had stolen money from the office.

All five people then ran out and across the street to the Safeway parking lot, where their car was waiting. They then drove west on Highway 1, but the Saskatchewan Highway Patrol pulled them over for driving 150 kilometres per hour.

Besides arresting the five people — four men and one woman — officers also seized $12,700 in various currencies.

Parker argued that Grancea and Fardi were accomplices since their job was to distract the owners while the fifth individual snuck into the office and stole money. Moreover, they were in the vehicle when police pulled them over west of Moose Jaw, where officers found packages of currency and various papers and receipts from the restaurant. 

While the couple agreed to plead guilty to the charge of theft under $5,000, the Crown wasn’t proceeding on charges of possession of property obtained by crime since the duo had signed documents agreeing to relinquish all the cash police discovered in the vehicle. 

As part of a joint submission, Grancea and Fardi — who don’t have a criminal record — will receive a conditional discharge and 12 months of probation, along with conditions such as keeping the peace and being of good behaviour. If they obey their probation, then — as part of the nature of a conditional discharge — they won’t have a criminal record.

Defence lawyer Michael Czuma said the couple are married and have adult children, with whom they came to Canada in August 2022 and made refugee claims. They both live on welfare and have limited funds, so he asked the judge to waive the victim surcharge.

Meanwhile, Czuma said he had lost touch with the other two offenders — Geani Nicolae Costache and Constantin Marin — since they had fled back to Romanian and asked to withdraw as their counsel. 

Also, the Canadian Border Services Agency deported the fifth accomplice — Livu Nicolae Lacatus — last year.

Judge Brian Hendrickson accepted the joint submission and said it was a fit sentence that was in the best interests of Fardi and Grancea. He also waived the victim surcharge and agreed to issue arrest warrants for Costache and Marin. 

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