Wife on the ropes in bizarre court case

A bizarre divorce trial involving a man with two wives wrapped up on Monday, with Judge Leigh Gower reserving his decision. The protracted court case hasn't gone well for Evangeline Ramirez, 61.

A bizarre divorce trial involving a man with two wives wrapped up on Monday, with Judge Leigh Gower reserving his decision.

The protracted court case hasn’t gone well for Evangeline Ramirez, 61. She insists she never knew her husband of 16 years, Benjamin Toquero, had another wife in the country they both hail from, the Philippines, until their separation one year ago.

She’s outraged Toquero now seeks half of everything that she owns.

Bigamy is illegal in Canada. But Toquero, 64, isn’t being tried for this now.

Instead, the trial has focused on how much the couple’s assets are worth. And, on this matter, Ramirez has not been forthcoming.

That could be a big problem for Ramirez when Gower makes his decision. As the judge said on Monday, “Credibility is a huge issue in this case.”

And Toquero’s lawyer, Norah Mooney, has done a thorough job chipping away at Ramirez’s inconsistencies on financial matters.

And, if Ramirez isn’t being straight about this, Mooney has asked, why should the court believe her when she says she didn’t know about the previous marriage?

Her answer: they shouldn’t.

“She knew full well he was married, because he told her in the very first letter that he wrote to her,” said Mooney.

But whether Ramirez knew of the previous marriage, or not, may be a moot point. You can’t be married to two people in Canada, whether the second wife knows about the previous marriage or not.

Yet the validity of the marriage may not matter, said Mooney. That’s because all of the big assets owned by the couple, including two houses and four automobiles, are jointly registered in the names of both spouses.

“Whether you’re married or not doesn’t matter,” said Mooney. “It’s joint title.”

And, as the couple lived together for 16 years, they may have dwelled together on a common-law basis, even if their marriage is invalid, said Mooney.

While on the stand, Ramirez frequently didn’t answer the questions posed to her. Sometimes she wouldn’t say anything. Other times, she’d say she was confused.

And Ramirez frequently claimed she couldn’t remember the answers to key financial questions.

That’s strange, said Mooney, given Ramirez’s claim to being the “driving force” of the couple’s janitorial business. She suggested Ramirez has a “selective memory.”

Other times, Ramirez would simply change the subject. Inevitably, she returned to her husband’s previous marriage.

“He’s a bigamist and a perjurer,” said Ramirez.

But that wasn’t what the trial was about, so Gower would rein her in.

Ramirez hasn’t disclosed all of her financial information, despite having more than one year to do so.

She’s offered up a grab-bag of excuses: she’s been distressed since learning of Toquero’s previous marriage, has had trouble obtaining information from her accountant and called the wrong number to obtain her pension division statement.

Ramirez has also flouted court orders to pay spousal support to her husband. He sought these payments after Ramirez refused to provide him with several cleaning contracts to supplement his income as an automobile mechanic at Walmart.

Ramirez first insisted Toquero did very little to help the business. Only during cross-examination did she concede that he helped clean many buildings.

Ramirez also lowballed the value of the couple’s houses and vehicles. Mooney took her to task for sponsoring eight relatives from the Philippines to work at the family business.

They live rent-free at her houses. Grocery bills cost $3,000 per month. Ramirez has had to let some go from the business, because there isn’t enough work.

“The person who is the driving force in this company is driving it into bankruptcy,” said Mooney.

And Ramirez contradicted herself on the matter of Toquero’s missing passport. Toquero alleges she hid it to prevent him from becoming a Canadian citizen.

Ramirez first claimed she had never seen it. Later, she admitted she took the passport so Toquero could receive a security clearance to clean the airport. She says it then went missing

Toquero admits to having another wife in the Philippines. That’s at odds with his immigration and marriage papers, in which he swore he was single.

Lying about this was Ramirez’s idea, he asserts. And she filled out the paperwork for him, he said.

He never divorced his first wife because that’s not allowed in the Philippines. Annulments are on offer, but they’re expensive, and he couldn’t afford one.

Ramirez told the court she didn’t trust Toquero when he arrived in Canada, because he owed her money at the time.

Yet she sponsored him as a fiance, and in doing so, promised to financially support him for one decade. Then she went ahead and married him.

“That testimony is simply not believable,” said Mooney.

By comparison, Toquero’s testimony about his duties with the janitorial business was consistent.

Ramirez’s lawyer, Carrie Burbidge, has also had a tough time in court. Once, when Gower chided her for vague questions, she choked up.

And only after Gower expressed surprise Burbidge hadn’t prepared a written closing submission, did she vow to write one up.

Mooney wants all the couple’s assets sold to pay off the considerable debt they’ve incurred. The balance would be evenly split.

Burbidge suggested he get nothing. She appeared surprised when Gower asked how big a share of the couple’s wealth Toquero ought to receive, if it was split.

Pressed, Burbidge suggested 25 per cent, a number Gower said “just seems to be pulled out of thin air.”

Burbidge opposed the sale of the house and vehicles used by Ramirez. But this led Gower to wonder how he’s supposed to sort out the value of assets.

“A lot of information is lacking, because your client hasn’t provided it.”

Contact John Thompson at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read