Hamilton grow op assets forfeited



    McGuinty Government Acts To Make Communities Safer

    TORONTO, March 18 /CNW/ - Two Hamilton-area properties, including one
used as a marijuana grow operation, cash and bank accounts with a total net
value of almost $325,000 have been forfeited to the Crown under provincial
civil forfeiture law.
    Lawyers for the Attorney General demonstrated to the civil court that
property in Stoney Creek was used to produce and traffic in marijuana and to
steal electricity. Property in Ancaster, cash and bank accounts were also
found to be proceeds of unlawful activity.
    On February 14, 2008, the Superior Court ordered that the property and
money be forfeited to the Crown. The case was subject to a 30-day appeal
period, which has now expired.
    The proceeds of civil forfeitures are used to compensate the victims of
the unlawful activity that gave rise to the forfeiture. They are also used for
grants to support initiatives that help prevent victimization.

    QUOTES

    "Another marijuana grow op is permanently out of business. Our innovative
civil forfeiture law takes the profit out of unlawful activity," said Attorney
General Chris Bentley.
    "In Ontario, unlawful activity doesn't pay. Instead, our government will
use the forfeited proceeds to support victims," said Ted McMeekin, MPP
Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.
    "Grow ops are not welcome in our neighbourhoods. The Attorney General is
using civil forfeiture law to help protect our community," said Sophia
Aggelonitis, MPP Hamilton Mountain.
    "This forfeiture sends a strong message that marijuana grow operations
will not be tolerated in our community. We will use every civil and criminal
law tool available to us to shut these operations down," said Hamilton Police
Service Chief Brian Mullan.

    
    QUICK FACTS

    -   Since November 2003, $5 million in property has been forfeited to the
        Crown under provincial civil forfeiture law. An additional
        $11.6 million in property is frozen pending the completion of civil
        forfeiture proceedings.
    -   Civil forfeiture proceeds have funded approximately $1 million in
        compensation to victims of unlawful activity and more than $900,000
        in grants to law enforcement agencies.

    LEARN MORE

    Learn more about civil forfeiture in Ontario
(http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/20070824_CRIA_Upd
ate.pdf).

    Learn more about how the McGuinty government is combating marijuana
    grow ops (http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page2081.aspx).

    Read the Civil Remedies Act
(http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/Download?dID=342120).

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                                             ontario.ca/attorneygeneral-news

                                                      Disponible en français


    BACKGROUNDER
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                     HAMILTON MARIJUANA GROW OP FORFEITED

    

    On December 1, 2004, Hamilton Police Service executed a search warrant at
a Stoney Creek property, after being informed by Hamilton Hydro about a
suspected illegal hydro bypass.
    Police found an illegal hydro bypass in the basement, which they believe
had been used to steal electricity for three years. They also seized plants
and dried marijuana with a street value of almost $300,000 from the house.
    The Hamilton Police Service forwarded the case to the Ministry of the
Attorney General for consideration under the Civil Remedies Act. As a result,
a property in Stoney Creek and another property in Ancaster, along with cash
and bank accounts believed to be proceeds, were frozen through a series of
court preservation orders, which began in January 2005.
    Lawyers for the Attorney General proved to the civil court that property
in Stoney Creek was used to produce and traffic in marijuana and to steal
electricity. They also proved that property in Ancaster, cash and bank
accounts were proceeds of unlawful activity.
    On February 14, 2008, the Superior Court of Justice ordered the property
forfeited to the Crown. The case was subject to a 30-day appeal period, which
has now expired.

    CIVIL FORFEITURE IN ONTARIO

    Ontario's civil forfeiture law - the Civil Remedies Act - allows the
Attorney General to ask the civil court for an order to freeze, take
possession of, and forfeit to the Crown, property that is determined to be a
proceed or an instrument of unlawful activity.
    A proceed is property, such as money, acquired as a result of unlawful
activity. An instrument is property that is likely to be used to engage in
unlawful activity in the future, such as a house used as a marijuana grow
operation. Property includes all types of assets, such as real estate, cars
and cash.
    In Ontario, civil forfeiture legislation focuses solely on the connection
between property and unlawful activity and is not dependent on any criminal
charges or convictions. The standard of proof required for civil forfeiture is
the same as it is in all civil actions - a balance of probabilities.

    HOW CIVIL FORFEITURE LAW WORKS

    The process for civil forfeiture begins when a designated institution,
such as the police or a government ministry, submits a case to the reviewing
authority, an independent Crown counsel in the Ministry of the Attorney
General. That counsel decides whether the statutory criteria in the Civil
Remedies Act have been met. Once that is confirmed, the case information is
forwarded to the ministry's Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities Office
(CRIA), which is responsible for enforcing the Act.
    CRIA lawyers bring proceedings to court on behalf of the Attorney
General. The court can grant an interim order to freeze property so it cannot
be used, mortgaged or sold, pending the outcome of the forfeiture proceeding.
If CRIA lawyers can prove that the property in question is a proceed or an
instrument of unlawful activity, the court can issue orders forfeiting the
property to the Crown.
    Forfeited property that is not cash is liquidated and the funds,
including any cash forfeited are deposited into a special purpose account.
Victims of the unlawful activity that led to the forfeiture can then submit a
claim for compensation from those funds. Remaining funds may be disbursed for
grants to support programs and initiatives that help victims of unlawful
activity or prevent victimization.

    CIVIL FORFEITURE SUCCESSES

    Ontario's Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities office is recognized
nationally and internationally for its precedent-setting work. Since November
2003, a total of $5 million in property has been forfeited to the Crown. The
province also has approximately $11.6 million in property that is frozen
pending the completion of civil forfeiture proceedings.

    
    Under the Civil Remedies Act, the Attorney General has:

    -   Shut down a notorious Hamilton crack house and transferred ownership
        to the City of Hamilton
    -   Frozen crack houses in Hamilton and Chatham
    -   Frozen two biker clubhouses - in Oshawa and Thunder Bay
    -   Crushed two street racing cars
    -   Taken 10 guns off the streets (including a stun gun)
    -   Forfeited 14 properties used for marijuana grow operations and frozen
        52 more
    -   Forfeited over $1 million in illicit cash
    -   Distributed approximately $1 million in compensation to victims of
        unlawful activity
    -   Awarded more than $900,000 in grants to law enforcement agencies.

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                                             ontario.ca/attorneygeneral-news

                                                      Disponible en français
    





For further information:

For further information: Sheamus Murphy, Ministry of the Attorney
General, Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; Brendan Crawley, Ministry of the
Attorney General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2210

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