Linda O’Leary, the wife of Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary, is no longer facing jail time for her involvement in a fatal August boat crash in Ontario, Canada. After initially stating that O’Leary could face a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, Canada’s prosecution authority has now announced that she only faces a fine of $10,000.
Melanie Houle, Public Prosecution Service of Canada spokesperson, explained in an email to VICE that the change in maximum sentencing is due to a misunderstanding and reconsideration, as the initial maximum sentence only applies to commercial vehicles, not small pleasure crafts, which is what O’Leary had been driving at the time of the Aug. 24 boating accident.
“After careful review of the Act, the Crown determined that the PPSC’s initial position on maximum allowable penalties was not accurate,” Houle said.
After the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officially charged O’Leary with careless operation of a vessel, her attorney, Brian Greenspan, had fiercely disputed the possible sentencing, claiming that it was unwarranted and that the maximum penalty for the offense should instead be $10,000.
“She has always been a cautious and experienced boater who came into collision with an unlit craft on a dark and moonless night. The other boat was sitting in a dark spot on a lake, no cottage lights nearby, no moon,” Greenspan told the Los Angeles Times at the time, adding that the penalty O’Leary faces only applies to “ocean going vessels.”
“They are absolutely wrong. That applies to ocean going vessels. The pleasure craft provision is a maximum $10,000 fine,” he said.
At last reporting, O’Leary was scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 29.
The driver of the second boat, Richard Ruh, is also facing a charge of failure to exhibit a navigation light, though he is not required to make a court appearance as it is a lesser charge.
The charges stem from the fatal Aug. 24 boat collision on Lake Joseph in the Muskokas, which left Gary Poltash, 64, from Florida, dead at the scene and Susanne Brito, a 48-year-old mother-of-three from Uxbridge, Ontario, succumbing to her injuries at the hospital.
“On late Saturday night I was a passenger in a boat that was involved in a tragic collision with another watercraft that had no navigation lights on and then fled the scene," O’Leary’s husband said at the time. "I am fully co-operating with law enforcement in their investigation."
Neither O’Leary nor her husband have commented on the charges.