Cash seized as proceeds of crime
Sydney Mines man not convicted of drug charges
The province of Nova Scotia is temporarily pocketing $5,725 from a man accused of being a drug dealer, even though he has not been convicted of any drug charges.
A judge ruled Monday in Sydney that the province can hold on to the cash — currently being held by the Cape Breton Regional Police — until a hearing.
The case of John Joseph Reynolds is the first test of Nova Scotia's new Civil Forfeiture Act and Assets Management and Disposition Act. Unlike previous proceeds-of-crime legislation, it allows for the forfeiture of property even without a criminal conviction. It places the burden of proof on the defendant.
Police seized the cash in a drug raid at Reynolds' house in Sydney Mines in February. To get it back, he has to prove he didn't earn the money by selling drugs.
The province's manager of civil forfeitures told the court that police found weigh scales and more than 20 grams of marijuana and hashish in small bags. The court heard that some evidence was found in Reynolds' bedroom, along with the cash.
Reynolds, 36, maintains that he's a drywaller and part-time crab fisherman raising three children on his own.
"They should have to prove that it's drug money, not me have to prove that it's work. And I did prove it's from work — drywalling and fishing. I brought in receipts to show her, so what else can I do?" he said.
The judge said she heard enough evidence to convince her that Reynolds should not get the money back until a formal hearing.
Reynolds was facing two counts of possession of marijuana, but court heard those charges are expected to be dropped on Tuesday. He told the court that someone else has pleaded guilty to owning those drugs.
Because civil cases do not qualify for Legal Aid, Reynolds represented himself in court on Monday. He said he only learned about the case on June 9 and didn't have time to find a lawyer.
"I would have got a lawyer and everything and got it done right," he said.
The new act took effect on April 29.