Calgary’s egg man off to jail for contempt of court

An Alberta farmer will serve 37 days in jail for contempt of court after he refused to stop selling filthy, low-grade eggs on Calgary street corners despite repeatedly being ordered to stop.

Elmar Augart, 75, has already paid $14,000 in fines and served two weeks in jail for ignoring a decade’s worth of orders from the courts and health inspectors that he stop selling eggs without a permit.

“What will it take to finally get Mr. Augart to obey health and safety legislation, or court orders?” Rob O’Neill, a prosecutor for Alberta Health Services, asked court. “It’s clear he needs to go back to jail for a longer time to get the message across.”

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Stephen Hillier did not hesitate to agree to a jail sentence.

“It is clear that prior penalties have not engaged the attention of Mr. Augart,” Hillier said.

Augart’s trouble with illegal eggs began in September 2002 when he was convicted of selling them without a permit. That was followed by a second conviction in March 2003. He paid a total of $14,000 in fines.

Then in August 2003, Augart was caught selling eggs out of cardboard boxes on a street corner in Calgary’s Chinatown. He used no refrigeration and the eggs he sold were reaching 31 C while waiting to be sold. In that incident, health officials seized and destroyed 2,000 eggs.

O’Neill said that the eggs Augart sold were discoloured, misshapen and covered with feathers and bird feces. They were low-grade eggs rejected from other sources and sold as “farm-fresh” by Augart.

In November 2010, he was again caught selling eggs in Calgary’s Chinatown. He was also found to be selling eggs to restaurants, cafes and catering companies.

Augart’s eggs were linked to a salmonella outbreak in Calgary in late 2010. More than 4,000 eggs were seized from four catering companies and traced back to him.

He was caught twice more, in December 2010 and March 2011. His truck was seized and impounded. Augart was asked where the eggs came from and where he planned to deliver them.

In a recent affidavit to court, Augart tried to explain himself.

“I estimate I’ve broken even selling eggs,” he wrote. “I have continued for pleasure because I have sold eggs in and around Calgary since 1957.”