Investigators hope Wi-Fi routers will help prove Winnipeg cafe owners allegedly staged hate crime

Winnipeg police are hoping that Wi-Fi routers will prove instrumental in determining if local cafe owners staged a hate crime in their business.According to an affidavit obtained by Global News, investigators allege Oxana and Alexander Berent, along with their son Maxim, faked a hate crime at the cafe they owned, the BerMax Caffé.In April, the trio was charged with public mischief, which involves intent to mislead and causing an officer to investigate an incident based on false information.Story continues below

The charges have not been proven in court. The Berents are presumed innocent until proven guilty.READ MORE: BerMax Caffe owners deny allegations they staged anti-Semitic hate crimeThe alleged hate crime happened on the evening of April 18, 2019, where the Berents told investigators and media that someone came in through the cafe’s back door, assaulted and choked Oxana until she was unconscious, and damaged the cafe.Someone called 911 to report the attack at 10:30 p.m. When responders arrived 10 minutes later, Oxana was now awake. Police were notified and inside the restaurant they found smashed TVs, hateful graffiti and swastikas spray painted on walls, broken items and an empty safe.Four days later, the Berents were arrested.The affidavitThe affidavit, sworn by Winnipeg police officer Ryan Toyne, says the investigation led police to track vehicular traffic in and out of the cafe’s parking lot before, during and after the incident.Using video from Winnipeg Transit buses, CCTV cameras and data from the cafe’s alarm company, Toyne said police tracked Alexander’s vehicle to a local hardware store before and during the attack. Afterwards, still images show Alexander’s vehicle back in the cafe parking lot, and the back door was opened at 10:06 p.m, said Toyne.According to the affidavit, Oxana told police Maxim went with Alexander to the hardware store, but surveillance photos could not see Maxim in the vehicle, nor did he enter the store.During the time Alexander’s vehicle was at the hardware store, several glass break alarms went off in the cafe, starting at 9:27 p.m. until 10:01 p.m. said Toyne.READ MORE: BerMax Caffe owners may face steep consequences over alleged staged hate crime: lawyerA man believed to be Maxim called 911 at 10:29 p.m., 23 minutes after it’s believed Alexander went back to the cafe, said Toyne.The affidavit states the trio was arrested and confronted with the timeline evidence, but they denied they staged the robbery.“Alexander, Maxim and Oxana did not accept the timeline provided by surveillance footage and [the alarm company.] They could not adequately explain the discrepancies in times/events between their stories and the surveillance … shown to them,” said Toyne in the sworn affidavit.image_from_iosA photo from the inside of the cafe shows a swastika on the far wall.Joe Scarpelli/Global NewsCPT13001014.jpgThe lawyer for one of three family members accused of staging an anti-Semitic attack at their Winnipeg restaurant says the incident was no hoax. The BerMax Caffe in Winnipeg is photographed Thursday, April 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John WoodsIMG_1899Winnipeg Police sit outside BerMax Caffe in April of 2019.Michael Draven/ Global NewsBerMax CafeBerMax Cafe and Bistro opened it’s doors four years ago and pulled its Kosher menu earlier this month.Marek Tkach / Global NewsThe affidavit is attached to warrants requested to search the cafe building for Wi-Fi routers and seize them. Tha allegations in the affidavit have not been proven.“I believe it is reasonable that [Technical Crimes Unit] will be able to compare the MAC addresses obtained from the forensic examination of the of the WIFI (sic) routers to the unique MAC addresses for the smartphones seized from the Berent family, affording evidence related to the public mischief investigation as to the times the Berent’s smartphones were connected to the WIFI in the Bermax business,” reads the affadavit.Those routers were seized May 2.Previous incidentsBefore the Berents were arrested, Winnipeg police had said the cafe was the target of four additional hate crimes in recent months. The affidavit shows that all the past reports will be reviewed as part of the investigation.Court documents allege the family was facing financial difficulties.In August 2018, the court ruled in favour of BDC against the Berents and ordered Oxana and Alexander to pay the bank $114,147.47.READ MORE: ‘Worst’ anti-Semitic hate crime at Winnipeg cafe allegedly faked by owners, say policeThere is no indication that payment has been made.In April, the Royal Bank of Canada filed a statement of claim against the Berents’ son Maxim, saying he owes $43,628.94 in credit card debt, plus interest and legal costs.According to court records, Maxim did not file a statement of defense and a default judgement was made in favour of RBC in June.Court appearanceThe Berents had their first court appearance at the end of May.They denied the accusations after all three were charged with public mischief.Oxana’s lawyer, Martin Glazer said at the time the public should not rush to judgement.“I’ve been doing this for 37 years and this is the first time I’ve encountered a case such as this. It’s very rare, very rare. On behalf of my client, she’s not the type of person to do this. She says it’s all false.”READ MORE: Winnipeg cafe targeted with anti-Semitic graffitiGlazer said there was no motive for his client to fake the attack and that she was physically injured.“She was knocked out. According to the information I have, it was noted that she was in the ambulance and couldn’t even speak. She was in shock, she was traumatized and she was shaking and had a look of fear on her face. Her blouse was torn,” he said.The medical evidence will prove that Oxana was traumatized, he added.“This was not a hoax. You can’t fake symptoms like that. We expect to get all the blood pressure readings that should confirm she was the victim of an attack.”WATCH: Court documents indicate the owners of BerMax Caffe and Bistro, who are charged with staging a hate crime at their own restaurant, were in financial hot water.