CORNWALL, ON, April 18, 2012 /CNW/ - On March 31st, 2012, following a short term investigation, Cornwall Regional Task Force (CRTF) members stopped a vehicle occupied by Monique POMINVILLE (age 42) and Diane Claire GREGOIRE (age 45), both from Hawkesbury, Ontario, on Highway 417 near Hawkesbury. POMINVILLE and GREGOIRE were found to be in possession of contraband tobacco. The duo were subsequently arrested and charged for possession of unstamped tobacco. The investigation revealed that POMINVILLE and GREGOIRE purchased the contraband tobacco at a smoke shop on Kanesatake, PQ, a native reservation near Oka, QC, and were returning to Hawkesbury when they were stopped by police. Their conveyance, a 2002 blue Hyundai Accent, along with approximately one hundred (100) cartons of contraband cigarettes was seized. Both were released on a Promise to Appear along with an Undertaking to appear in L'Orignal court on May 9th, 2012.
Section 32 of the Excise Act prohibits the sale, offer for sale or possession of unstamped tobacco products in Canada. Under section 87 of the Indian Act of Canada, the personal property of a registered (Status) Indian situated on a reserve is exempt from taxation. In recognition of this exemption, the provincial Tobacco Tax Act and regulations authorize Ontario's First Nations Cigarette Allocation System. First Nations individuals may buy cigarettes on a reserve, for their exclusive use, which are exempt from Ontario tobacco taxes.
The consequences of dealing in illegal tobacco products are serious. Offenders are liable to substantial fines, confiscation of their property (including money, boats, vehicles and homes) and a prison term of up to five years pursuant to the Excise Act, and any other provincial legislation.
"There is a common misconception amongst the general public that anyone can purchase untaxed cigarettes on Native reservations." states Insp. Kimpan, Officer in charge of the Cornwall Regional Task Force, "It is important for the public to be aware that being in possession of unstamped tobacco products is a crime. If caught, you will be arrested and charged and your vehicle and the cigarettes, in your possession, will be seized."
On April 2nd, 2012, the CRTF was called in to assist following a traffic stop conducted by an OPP officer in South Glengarry, Ontario. Timothy Angus CALLAGHAN-GASSELDORFER (age 25) from Montreal, Quebec, was arrested and charged for being in possession of contraband tobacco. His conveyance, a 2004 Ford Freestar, along with 1,650 cartons of cigarettes and 150 cartons of flavored cigars was seized. CALLAGHAN-GASSELDORFER was released on a Promise to Appear with a scheduled first appearance date of May 8th, 2012.
On April 4th, 2012, CRTF members responded to a call for assistance from Cornwall's Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). A truck had allegedly failed to stop to report, as required, for CBSA members at Cornwall's Port of Entry. CRTF members located the suspect vehicle, a short time later, abandoned in the area of Ninth and Bedford Streets, Cornwall, ON. The vehicle was seized and searched under the authority of the Customs Act. The search revealed 600 cartons of contraband cigarettes in the vehicle. The truck, a 2007 black Chevrolet Avalanche was seized. Charges are pending further investigation.
On April 5th, 2012, the Cornwall Community Police Service arrested Bradley COOKE (age 39) from Akwesasne, Ontario, on the strength of an outstanding warrant for failing to appear for court in early March 2012, in relation to his Excise Act charges. COOKE was turned over to CRTF.
On April 5th, 2012, the CRTF members attended Cornwall's Port of Entry (POE), where CBSA members had arrested a 17 year old male, from Cornwall, Ontario, for possession of unstamped tobacco products. (The youth's name cannot be divulged under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.) A search of the young person's vehicle resulted in 450 cartons of contraband cigarettes being seized. He was turned over to CRTF members for processing. This young person has also been charged by the Ministry of Finance under Section 29(1) of the Tobacco Tax Act for possession for purpose of sale, and Section 29(1.0.1) of the Tobacco Tax Act for possession of unmarked cigarettes. He was also charged under the Highway Traffic Act for driving a motor vehicle without a license. The conveyance, in this matter, was seized.
On April 11th, 2012, CRTF members received notification from the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) that they had Jacqueline CAYER in custody. CRTF members attended OPS to arrest CAYER on the strength of outstanding warrants. CAYER was held for a bail hearing.
The individuals noted above, who have been charged under the provisions of the Excise Act, also face charges under the provincial Tobacco Tax Act for possession of unmarked cigarettes.
The CRTF continues to address the complaints of suspicious activity observed by local residents. If anyone notices suspicious activity, they are urged to please contact the CRTF at 613-937-2800 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
The CRTF is a joint forces partnership that includes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Ontario Provincial Police and the Ontario Ministry of Finance.
For further information:
Sgt. Lee Côté
Sgt. Kristine Rae
Ontario Provincial Police