Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong was interviewed for almost three hours yesterday by The Province, and in today's paper reporter Ethan Baron writes: Armstrong, 59, said he did nothing wrong, but agreed to a guilty plea because authorities told him that if he didn't, his son wouldn't be able to get his plea agreement for a year and a day in jail.
The U.S. prosecutor's case was riddled with inaccuracies, Armstrong claimed in the interview, but was told Gregory would have faced a 10-year prison sentence unless he agreed to a package plea.
"They put a gun to my head by putting it to Greg's head," Baron reports.
On Tuesday, Armstrong said he opened the box because it was large, looked beat-up and had been wrapped with a lot of tape.
"If I knew what was in the box, why would I have opened it in plain view of everybody?" the retired dentist said.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Special Agent Jim Burkhardt pounced before Armstrong had a chance to call his son to ask about the contents of the box, Armstrong claimed.
"There's not a chance in the world that I'm taking this across the border," Armstrong said. "I know it's got to be illegal."
Asked for a response, U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie told The Province Armstrong needs to live with the statements he made.
"That's what he told law enforcement. It's unfortunate that having entered a guilty plea that he is now interested in disputing the facts of the case," Langlie said, adding that Armstrong pleaded guilty "freely and voluntarily."
You can read the full interview HERE
I have been in contact with Jim who told me that his "intent would be to let the facts speak for themselves," and that The Province "didn't get it completely right."
UPDATE: Thursday 3PM - Since then a friend has reported claims by Jim of Prosecutorial misconduct, the fact that his son was under investigation prior to Jim's arrest, and mention of a polygraph test. (You can read them in the 6.53PM comment to this post.)
None of that goes directly to what is for me the key question: was Jim coerced into making false statements in his plea agreement admitting guilt for sommething he did not do, in order to have his son's sentence reduced from ten years to one year?
Jim had agreed to make a statement here, however the last email I received from him stated that he was on his way to the airport. "By the time we arrive in Prague, some desicions will be made regarding absolute, full disclosure, and any potential risk to Greg's wellbeing now."
I have asked Jim six pointed questions intended to cut through the inuendo and supposition. Though public interest is obviously high now, I think we should probably give Jim time to decide what is in his and his son's best interests before he makes a more definitive statement.