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Former Gurdwara President Convicted of Fraud

Courtesy: Jagpal Singh Tiwana. Brennan Clarke may be reached via email at

Victoria News (, Dec. 16, 2005

Photo: Sarabjit 'Sam' Nagra

Photo: Dave Basi

Photo: Bob Virk

A former Victoria [British Columbia, Canada] Sikh temple [gurdwara] president has been convicted of five fraud-related offences committed during his seven-year tenure as the organization's figurehead.

According to a conditional sentence order dated November 24, 2005, Sarabjit 'Sam' Nagra pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing a forged credit card, two counts of obtaining goods or services under false pretenses and one count of fraud. He was charged with 24 counts of fraud in the spring of 2004, but the Crown dropped all but five of those charges.

Nagra received a 15-month conditional sentence, 150 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution.

As president of the temple society, Nagra was a controversial figure with an authoritarian leadership style that sparked a series of lawsuits between bickering factions within the society.

Nagra's faction, moderate Sikhs belonging to the Khalsa Diwan Society of Victoria [1210 Topez Avenue], ran the temple from 1998 to February 2004, when his slate of board members lost in the temple elections.

Just over a month earlier, Nagra made headlines by accusing local reporters of racism in their coverage of Victoria police raids on the legislature implicating Dave Basi and Bob Virk, two well-known members of the local Indo-Canadian community.

Nagra called the media coverage of the charges against Basi and Virk a 'pogrom against the Indo-Canadian community.'

Nagra is currently travelling in India with his daughter and was unavailable for comment.

The sentencing order contains a number of conditions, including a directive for Nagra to return to Canada by March 18, 2006 and abide by a 10 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew for the following six months.

He's also banned from possessing credit cards and identification in any name other than his own and must report monthly to his bail officer by phone from India.