Couple challenges forfeiture request

A northwest couple has filed an appeal against an attempt by the provincial government to keep money seized during a police search warrant

A COUPLE has filed an appeal against an attempt by the provincial government to keep money seized during a police execution of a search warrant earlier this year.

Darrell Genaille and Desiree Bolton want $21,380 in Canadian currency and $100 in American currency returned, saying it was seized during a search of a residence at which they don’t live.

The attempt to keep the money is being made by the provincial government’s Civil Forfeiture Office which acts to seize property and assets, including money, obtained from activity regarded as illegal even though no criminal charges may have been filed and subsequently proven in court.

Court documents filed by the forfeiture office state the seizure took place on or about April 10, 2013 when Terrace RCMP officers obtained a search warrant after receiving information about cocaine being trafficked out of the residence at 4610 Davis Ave.

The money was seized along with a number of items police say was used for selling drugs.

The court document filed by the forfeiture office alleges that the money came from purchases of “illegal drugs,” and that the pair “either directly participated in the selling of the illegal drugs or obtained the money directly or indirectly from the sellers of the illegal drugs,” and that the “defendants intended to use the money to purchase illegal drugs,” and “if the money is returned to the defendants, they will likely use it for trafficking in illegal drugs.”

The document said the money and proceeds, including interest, should be forfeited immediately and the money and proceeds “be paid into the civil forfeiture account of the [provincial government’s] consolidated revenue fund.”

In their denial of the civil forfeiture office’s statement of facts, Genaille and Bolton said they “do not reside at the residence” named on the civil forfeiture documents as 4610 Davis Ave.

They also say that “the money seized from the defendant was not provided by purchasers of substances listed in … the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act … at a time prior to or including April 10, 2013.

“The money seized from the defendant was obtained in a settlement between the defendant and Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).”

Genaille and Bolton also say the money seized “is intended to be part of a business venture start-up, started by the defendant….When the money seized from the defendant is returned, it will finance the business venture start-up and equipment upgrade for the defendant.”

Following the execution of the search warrant and subsequent investigation, Terrace RCMP officers did forward information federal prosecutors with a recommendation to lay charges.

But charges were never laid and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, has not indicated why they were never laid.

The provincial forfeiture office can still seize and dispose of property through civil action where requirements are not as stringent as those found in criminal court cases.

Genaille and Bolton have also filed a complaint against the RCMP through the Commission for Public Complaints.

“This application will be requesting charges against RCMP members as they conducted illegal activities against Mr. Genaille and Ms. Bolton, violating their rights and freedoms,” indicate documents filed by the couple. They say any evidence used from the RCMP file about them violates their rights and freedoms that they are guaranteed and that the claim by the forfeiture office “is being based on accusations and not facts…and granting this claim without facts is a crime against” them.

Items found and seized during the search included the money, which was in a bag in the master bedroom closet; an “I Love Santa” bag in a basket in the same closet containing 15 grams of cocaine split into two bags; 19 pre-made “flaps,” small individually wrapped amounts; a weigh scale with cocaine residue; and a spoon next to the weigh scale, continued the document.

A cigarette package with five flaps of cocaine, each with 0.4 grams of the drug, was found on a table beside a couch in the living room; a wallet containing $480 in Canadian currency and various pieces of identification for Genaille was in the centre console of the couch along with eight flaps; a folder containing sheets used to record drug transactions was behind a couch; a Motorola cell phone and a Blackberry cell phone were on a table beside the couch in the living room.

Two iPhones were on the couch and a baggie from a living room closet appeared to have cocaine residue on it, said the document.

A bag with marijuana residue and a scale was found in the bathroom, a baton was found in the kitchen and various documents were found in both Genaille’s and Bolton’s names.

Early last year, two houses believed to house grow-ops were forfeited, the first time in Terrace, after one case was dropped a week before the trial and charges were not approved on the other case.