Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Quebec Justice Official Wants Easier Seizures of 'Crime Spoils'

Make it easier to seize crime spoils: Quebec AG
Last Updated Wed, 15 Sep 2004 13:37:16 EDT

QUEBEC CITY - Quebec's Attorney General is pushing for changes to the
Criminal Code to make it easier to collect the proceeds of crime.

Walter Stadnick, left, and Donald Stockford in the prisoner's box.
The request comes as Quebec Justice officials pursue millions of dollars
from two convicted members of the Hells Angels.

Quebec Attorney General Jacques Dupuis says putting convicted gangsters
behind bars isn't enough. He wants their money too.

"So the message to those people is: You won't get away with it," Dupuis says.

This week, government lawyers are trying persuade a court to order two
convicted Hells Angels members to hand over $1 million each.

Walter Stadnick and Donald Stockford were sentenced to 20 years in prison
for their involvement in Montreal's biker wars. Financial records seized
from the Hells Angels show the two men made more than $11 million in drug
profits.

Under existing law, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt
the earnings came from crime.

Dupuis wants the law to be changed to put the burden of proof on the side
of the accused instead.

"We would reverse that so that the individual would have to prove that he
acquired the goods in a legitimate way instead of us proving that he
acquired it with the proceeds of crime," Dupuis says.

Dupuis will ask his federal counterpart to make the necessary changes to
the Criminal Code.

While the federal Justice Department indicates it is open to exploring the
idea, a spokesperson says officials do have concerns that such changes
could violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Written by CBC News Online staff