Police found $434K in cash in house searched during Cody homicide probe

Investigators found more than 14,000 $20 notes, nearly 2,000 $50 bills, almost 500 $100 notes, and a combined total of about 200 $5s and $10s.

Homeowner Kurt Churchill focus of RCMP money-laundering investigation

Kurt Churchill is pictured at provincial court in St. John's in an Oct. 23, 2020, file photo, during a sentencing hearing for uttering threats against a police officer. Churchill was found guilty and given a conditional discharge, which does not result in a criminal record. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

When Royal Newfoundland Constabulary investigators zeroed in on a house as they investigated the James Cody homicide this summer, they found more than $434,000 in cash.

Soon after, the RCMP launched a money-laundering and proceeds of crime investigation focused on the owner of the house, Kurt Churchill.

Those new details are in court documents filed by the federal Crown and RCMP at provincial court in St. John's.

Last month, the Mounties asked a judge to give them permission to hold onto the cash and other potential evidence seized through search warrants in July.

On Friday morning, that application was granted, with some minor changes.

The money-laundering investigation is ongoing, and no charges have been laid.

Churchill's lawyer, Robby Ash, declined to comment.

According to court filings, the RNC asked the RCMP to take over the proceeds of crime investigation related to the seizure of the money.

When they searched 40 Craigmillar Ave. as part of the Cody homicide investigation, police found more than 14,000 $20 notes, nearly 2,000 $50 bills, almost 500 $100 notes, and a total of about $200 in $5s and $10s.

In addition to the cash, police also seized a money counter, vacuum sealer, cling wrap and 10 boxes of Seal-a-Meal storage bags.

Armed Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers and an investigator are seen combing Craigmillar Avenue in the wake of the fatal shooting of James Cody in early July. (Paul Daly for CBC)

"As a result of the search warrants and the seizure of the [proceeds of crime] and RNC items, in particular the currency seized by the RNC, cash receipts and financial documents, [the federal serious and organized crime unit] commenced the investigation into Churchill and the possible link between his drug trafficking activities and possession of [proceeds of crime] and money laundering," RCMP Cpl. Laura Purchase wrote in an affidavit.

The court filings link the "drug trafficking" reference to Operation Battalion, which saw Churchill arrested and charged in 2014 for his alleged role in a high-level cocaine operation.

In 2017, Churchill was acquitted of all charges after his lawyer filed an application over unfair trial delays. The Crown called no evidence.

Churchill has no criminal record. He was recently found guilty of threatening a police officer last year, but received a conditional discharge.

Lawyers for Churchill and the provincial Crown have been fighting in court over whether he should have to provide DNA to a national police databank as part of that sentence.

Churchill won the latest round, and won't have to provide DNA while he appeals his guilty verdict in the uttering threats case. This week, the Crown appealed that DNA decision to the province's top court.

There was a heavy police presence on Craigmillar Avenue in St. John’s on July 5, following the early morning shooting on the residential street. (Paul Daly for CBC)

Cody was found shot to death on the street near Churchill's Craigmillar Avenue home this July.

No charges have been laid in relation to the homicide, and the RNC has not publicly named any suspects.

Police have not confirmed what, if any, connection Churchill has to the case.

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