The family-run Richmond business at the centre of an $8.5 million lawsuit this week launched a counter offensive.
Blanchette Press, and the family who runs the award-winning River Road-based offset printing firm, is subject to bizarre law suit and restraining order filed in Houston, Texas by a couple who say they used to be close friends of the Blanchettes.
In the suit, Heidi Hanna and Charles Hill allege Blanchette Press — as well as Kim and Mary Ellen Blanchette and their five sons; Adam, Matt, Joel, Aaron and Mark — duped them out of $8.5 million (U.S.) of their life savings after being convinced last year to deposit the fortune into a Las Vegas hotel's escrow account belonging to Joel.
The Blanchettes, however, filed their own suit on Monday in the B.C. Supreme Court, claiming that Hanna and Hill maliciously and wrongly allege they engaged in a conspiracy with Joel to defraud them of more than $8.5 million (U.S.)
The counter-suit also seeks an injunction restraining the Texan couple from further publishing the petition’s allegedly false allegations.
Both lawsuits are pending and have yet to be tested in court.
The News reported two weeks ago how, according to Hanna and Hill's lawsuit, the $8.5 million was to allow Joel to take part in an invitation-only, high roller poker game at the Wynn Hotel.
The couple says it was assured the $8.5 million was safe and returnable at any time. Over time, the couple grew suspicious and claims in the lawsuit that efforts to get the money back were rebuffed.
Hanna and Hill allege they finally tracked Joel down to a hotel in London, England, where he, according to the lawsuit, told them the entire Blanchette family had knowingly been enjoying spending the cash on private jets, luxury hotels and a condo in False Creek.
Three weeks ago, a judge in Harris County, Texas, granted a restraining order against the Blanchette family, preventing them from transferring or selling any assets or withdrawing or spending more than $500 per day.
When asked to comment on the lawsuit by the News, Kim Blanchette said via email that the "allegations against the companies, me and other family members are completely meritless and are being vigorously defended."
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