Yukon’s Supreme Court is a strange place to admit to a crime and have it go unremarked.
Yet that seems to be the position that Benjamin Toquero finds himself in.
He’s embroiled in a nasty divorce case with his wife, Evangeline Ramirez.
She owns a cleaning business. He works at Walmart, and he wants half of her assets.
But there may be a snag. When the two married at Whitehorse’s Sacred Heart Cathedral in November of 1994, Toquero, as expected, signed a document that stated he was unmarried.
That’s false, as Toquero later admitted in court-filed affidavits. He already had a wife, back in the Philippines.
Now he has two. That’s called bigamy, and it’s a crime.
So is making false statements on immigration documents. And on Toquero’s, he claimed to be single and unmarried when he entered Canada.
All this means Toquero may be deported for immigration fraud. But he may end up with half of Ramirez’s assets first. Their divorce trial begins on Monday.
Ramirez, 61, has objected that her marriage to Toquero, 64, ought to be considered null and void. She’s tabled documents that present compelling evidence that is the case.
But judges are, if anything, sticklers for procedure. And Leigh Gower isn’t presiding over an immigration fraud hearing.
It’s a family law case. So the trial will proceed.
It probably doesn’t help that Gower takes a dim view to Ramirez’s foot-dragging in court. She’s asked for many adjournments for a variety of reasons.
And Ramirez still hasn’t provided the full disclosure of her finances that the judge has requested for nearly one year now.
Nor has she made the payments to Toquero that the judge ordered. She’s in arrears $5,000.
Ramirez has refused to pay, and in doing so, runs the risk of being tossed in jail for contempt of court. “He doesn’t deserve anything,” she said.
As it stands, she’s upset that Toquero is living in one of her houses and driving her white Chevy Malibu.
Ramirez and Toquero struck up a pen pal relationship in 1989. Both originally hail from the Philippines, and both were working abroad at the time.
He was a boilermaker in Saudi Arabia. She was a nanny in Singapore.
He visited. They liked each other. They stayed in touch.
Ramirez arrived in Whitehorse in February of 1991. Toquero followed her in September of 1994.
They married two months later.
As she tells it, Ramirez knew nothing about her husband’s previous marriage until they separated.
Toquero declined to speak with the News. But, in court-filed statements, he insists he told her about his previous marriage shortly after they met.
And he notes the difficult situation he was in: You can’t get a divorce in the Philippines.
Ramirez claims to be worried sick from the case. She’s asked for adjournments because she feels depressed and suicidal.
Toquero doubts this. He noted that Ramirez recently vied, without success, for the Yukon Party nomination in Copperbelt North.
And he’s upset that Ramirez has gone public with their divorce case. An earlier article by the News not only caused him embarrassment – it triggered an investigation by the Canada Border Services agency, Toquero states.
Yukon’s MP, Ryan Leef, has also pushed for the immigration fraud case to move ahead. He’s called Immigration Minister Jason Kenney about it.
But even if Toquero receives a deportation order, he may be able to delay it through several layers of appeals.
The RCMP has also received a raft of photocopied documents, but they’ve asked for the originals, which arrived today from the Philippines, said Ramirez.
Ramirez is also pursuing legal action against Toquero in the Philippines, which is also her country of origin. Her brother is pressing for Toquero to be charged with bigamy there.
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