The owner of Lake Country’s notorious Airport Inn was given a 12-month probation order as part of a conditional discharge related to assault charges he faced during a November 2019 incident.
Raif Fleihan, 75, was charged with assault with a weapon and uttering threats in relation to events that occurred at his motel on Nov. 13, 2019. Fleihan was released following the initial arrest with a condition that he could not return to the hotel.
The very next day he did just that, resulting in a further charge of breach of recognizance.
He pled guilty to assault with a weapon on March 11 in a Kelowna provincial courtroom and all three charges were subsequently stayed.
The judge discharged Fleihan but he is subject to several conditions that could see him back in court if they are broken.
Among them, Fleihan is no longer allowed to go to the Airport Inn unless he’s accompanied by his lawyer or he gives 24 hours notice to local RCMP.
While the nature of the charges was not read aloud in court, Fleihan expressed his remorse.
“I feel bad,” he said. “After working for 20 years, this is not the way I wanted to go out.”
In 2017, Fleihan’s Airport Inn was shut down for health and safety purposes after a deck collapse warranted safety measures to be taken.
Despite numerous fines by the city and a revoked business permit, Fleihan continued operating the hotel, at one point housing nearly a dozen people.
On Aug. 20, 2019, Lake Country council ordered the motel of 20 years to be shut down within 45 days, with all residents gone and the building boarded up with a fence around the perimeter.
In an effort to extend the date of closure, Fleihan’s lawyer asked council to delay the remedial action to ensure tenants could find appropriate housing.
On Oct. 1 2019, council decided to uphold remedial action, giving the tenants until Oct. 7 to begin leaving due to safety violations and the lack of an occupancy permit.
Less than three weeks later, a suspicious fire burned one of the unoccupied wings of the building.
In court on March 11, Fleihan’s lawyer David Horvath said a new offer could be tendered on the still-for-sale building in the coming months.