BC Supreme Court orders payment of proceeds of crime

Judge says buyer of property linked to Colin Martin should have had suspicion.

Half the proceeds from the sale of property connected to convicted marijuana producer Colin Martin are to be forfeited to the Crown as proceeds of crime.

In December, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alison Beames determined the property at 3661 Northway Road, containing a warehouse with a formerly hidden bunker used by Martin for the production of marijuana, was clearly “offence-related.” She ruled half the remaining proceeds from the sale of the property (an undisclosed amount just exceeding $50,000) be forfeited, with the remainder being returned to the property’s former owner Dwight Genge.

The property, referred to as Lot 7, was one of three separate but adjacent lots raided by police on July 6, 2010. During the investigation, police uncovered a large, sophisticated marijuana grow operation in the concealed bunker on Lot 7. A smaller grow operation was found in a quonset hut also located on the lot.

Police valued the marijuana plants found in the raid between $732,920, if sold by the pound, and $3.3 million if sold by the gram.

On March 25, 2014, Jason Robert Airey was convicted of production of marijuana and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking in relation to the raid. On March 19, Martin entered guilty pleas to the same two offences and was later handed a two-year prison sentence.

The Crown argued Genge and his company had not demonstrated innocence of complicity or collusion. In response, Genge claimed he had no knowledge of, or any reason to suspect illegal activity was taking place on Lot 7, that “he was an innocent dupe who negotiated long and hard to acquire Lot 7, with the intention of future development.”

Beames said Genge conceded he knew the person who introduced him to Martin was “alleged to be associated with gang activity.” Also, that Martin was connected to a helicopter associated with drug trafficking, though Genge “understood… Martin alleged that the helicopter had been stolen from him and then used in the drug trade.” Beames also said Genge was aware, by way of an email from Martin, that Martin, “thought it would be a problem if someone Googled him.”

Beames also referenced other emails through which Martin told Genge, “with respect to obtaining bank financing, ‘Well, you can say I have a helicopter company,’” despite other emails supporting the assertion Genge knew Martin had no helicopter company legitimately operating.

“Despite all that knowledge, Crown says Mr. Genge continued to have discussions with Mr. Martin about renting the property back to Martin for $8,000 a month, with no apparent legal or legitimate source of business on the property to justify, or financially support such rent payments.”

Beames concluded Genge knew, or at least ought to have had a strong suspicion that Martin was making, or intended to make, illegal use of the property.

The Crown was also seeking forfeiture of proceeds from the sale of 3621 Northway Road (Lot 5), the address of the 6,700-square foot home that was being rented by Martin and spouse Jennifer Cahill at the time of the police raid. Beames, however, was not swayed by the Crown’s argument.

Land Title records list numbered company 311165 B.C. Ltd. as the property’s owner during Martin and Cahill’s tenancy.

The Crown argued Lot 5 was “used to shield the marihuana grow operation.” Beames, however, determined that just because Martin was residing on Lot 5 while operating a marijuana grow operation on Lot 7, there was no “sufficient basis on which to find that Lot 5 was offence-related property.” Furthermore, Beames said she was satisfied Lot 5’s registered owner was “not complicit or in collusion with the offender.”