Pubdate: Wed, 29 Feb 2012
Source: Terrace Standard (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Terrace Standard
Author: Margaret Speirs
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


TWO HOMES police said were the locations here for marijuana grow-ops 
have been seized and sold by the provincial government.

It's the first time a law has been used here permitting the province 
to seize through civil court action and then sell property or items 
believed to be used for illegal activity or acquired through illegal activity.

But while the proceeds of seizures elsewhere have been put back into 
law enforcement or related operations, the Terrace seizures didn't 
return a profit to the province.

One home was sold for a $1,000 loss and the other a $1,000 gain after 
respective sales costs, including paying down mortgages, were 
factored in, said an official from the provincial public safety ministry.

Tasha Schollen said the main motivation for the seizures through her 
ministry's Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) was public safety.

"When there is strong evidence and strong public interest (safety 
concerns of the police and community) then the CFO will accept the 
file even knowing from the outset it will not be financially viable 
to do so," said Schollen.

She stressed that any civil action through the forfeiture law is 
entirely separate from any criminal charges. The former concentrates 
on property while the latter concentrates on an individual or individuals.

"Specifically, civil forfeiture works to deter unlawful activity by 
taking away instruments used to further that activity, and the 
proceeds of unlawful activity," she said. In civil law, one party's 
case need only be more probable than the other, while in criminal the 
state must prove something beyond a reasonable doubt, Schollen added.

"All it means to the new owners is that they bought it (the 
residence) from the Crown," said Terrace RCMP Constable Angela Rabut 
of how the homes are sold after being seized.

One home at 4740 Soucie Ave. home sold for $112,000 and another at 
3515 King Ave. sold for $88,500, said Schollen.

On Jan. 27, 2009, police executed two search warrants for grow-ops: 
at the residence on Soucie Ave., officers found 26 pounds of 
harvested marijuana and a hydro bypass and at the King Ave. address, 
officers found 200 plants and a hydro bypass.

Criminal charges were not approved on the King Ave. bust.

Charges at the Soucie Ave. address were stayed one week before trial 
in September 2010.

The two houses were the city's first successful civil forfeiture 
actions, but not the first in the northwest. Other forfeitures have 
taken place in Smithers and Prince Rupert.

Revenues after expenses from forfeitures are paid into a special 
account and used to compensate crime victims, fund crime prevention 
programs, and pay for the costs of administering the act.
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