Linda O'Leary, the wife of Shark Tank star Kevin O'Leary, could be facing time behind bars after she was formally charged in connection to an August fatal boat crash in Ontario, Canada. Facing a charge of careless operation of a vessel, the Ontario Provincial Police's media relations coordinator, Carolle Dionne told the Associated Press that the charge carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison or a $1 million fine.
O'Leary's lawyer, prominent Canadian defense attorney Brian Greenspan, however, feels that the charge against his client is 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, 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.
Sources told TMZ that Linda is going to "vigorously fight the charge." She is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 29.
O'Leary's charges stem from a Saturday, Aug. 24 boating accident on Lake Joseph. A smaller vessel driven by O'Leary is said to have been driving at around 17 mph when, at around 11:30 p.m., it collided with a larger 13-person vessel which did not have its navigation lights on.
Gary Poltash, 64, from Florida, died at the scene of the collision. Susanne Brito, a 48-year-old mother-of-three from Uxbridge, Ontario, later died in the hospital. The three other people were also injured in the collision, though they were treated at a hospital and soon released.
"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."
"My heartfelt prayers and condolences to the victims, the families and those affected by this loss," he added.
According to investigators, O'Leary's speed at the time of the incident was unsafe and warranted the charge.
Richard Ruh, the 57-year-old American driver of the other, larger boat is also facing a charge of failure to exhibit a navigation light.